Source: CNN Business
A nurses strike at two private New York City hospital systems has come to an end after 7,000 nurses spent three days on the picket line.
The New York State Nurses Association union reached tentative deals with Mount Sinai Health System and Montefiore Health System, which operates three hospitals in the Bronx that had been struck. The nurses had been arguing that immense staffing shortages have caused widespread burnout, hindering their ability to properly care for their patients.
The union said the deal will provide enforceable “safe staffing ratios” for all inpatient units at Mount Sinai and Montefiore, “so that there will always be enough nurses at the bedside to provide safe patient care, not just on paper.” At Montefiore, the hospital agreed to financial penalties for failing to comply with agreed-upon staffing levels in all units.
Montefiore said the agreement also includes 170 new nursing positions, a 19.1% increase in pay, lifetime health coverage for eligible retirees and adding “significantly more nurses” in the ER.
The deals were announced in the early hours Thursday morning — at 3 a.m. ET for Montefiore and about 30 minutes later at Mount Sinai. The nurses were expected to be back on the job for the 7 a.m. ET shift Thursday, and Montefiore Medical Center said all surgeries and procedures and outpatient appointments for Thursday and after will proceed as scheduled.
“Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care,” the nurses union said in a statement. “Today, we can return to work with our heads held high, knowing that our victory means safer care for our patients and more sustainable jobs for our profession.”
The hospitals had stayed open during the three-day strike, using higher-cost temporary nursing services to provide care, and transferring other employees to take care of non-medical nursing duties. They had also diverted and transferred some patients to other hospitals and postponed some elective procedures.
The striking nurses have said they are working long hours in unsafe conditions without enough pay – a refrain echoed by several other nurses strikes across the country over the past year. They said the hours and the stress of having too many patients to care for is driving away nurses and creating a worsening crisis in staffing and patient care.
The union representing the nurses had reached tentative agreements offering the same 19% pay hikes at other New York hospitals, avoiding strikes by about 9,000 other nurses spread across seven hospitals in the city. But the nurses at the hospitals that went on strike said the pay raises weren’t the main problem, that the more severe staffing shortages at Mount Sinai and Montefiore needed to be addressed before a deal could be reached.