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New York nurses end strike

by Malou Talosig-Bartolome

Around 7,000 nurses, including Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, returned to their patients’ bedside today in New York City after holding a 3-day strike.

The nurses’ union and the two biggest hospitals in New York have reached a ‘tentative agreement” that included wage increase and hiring of additional staff.

What’s driving the news

Nurses from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx walked out of their posts and waged a strike early Monday morning (New York time).

The nurses’ union, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), complained of being over burned with so many patients, especially during the pandemic. They demanded additional staff to help save the lives of their patients, increase their wages, and improve working conditions.

The two hospitals were forced to divert ambulances, cancel non-emergency procedures and discharge patients following the nurses’ strike.

The strike lasted for three days.

Breakthrough in talks

Around 7 am Thursday, both sides announced they had reached “tentative deals.”

As part of the deal, nurses from both hospitals returned to work immediately.

Details of the agreement were not released.

Mt. Sinai Hospital hinted that their “proposed agreement” is similar to those between NYSNA and eight other New York City hospitals.

The NYSNA had struck deals with other hospitals for a 1 9.1 per cent wage increase and the creation of more than 170 new nursing positions.

NYSA said Mount Sinai agreed to “wall-to-wall safe staffing ratios” for all inpatient units.

It said they got a commitment that there will be “firm enforcement” to hire more staff and “not just on paper.”

A “safe staffing ratio” means “enough nurses at the bedside to provide safe patient care,” it claimed.

“New staffing ratios take effect immediately in a historic breakthrough for hospitals that refused to consider ratios that nurses have been demanding for decades,” it added.

Montefiore Hospital, meanwhile, has agreed for “new safe staffing ratios in the Emergency Department,” NYSA said.

The union also required that compliance for this policy to hire additional staff to be strictly implemented.

“Nurses also won community health improvements and nurse-student partnerships to recruit local Bronx nurses to stay as union nurses at Montefiore for the long run,” it added.

Union statement

“This is a historic victory for New York City nurses and for nurses across the country. NYSNA nurses have done the impossible, saving lives night and day, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we’ve again shown that nothing is impossible for nurse heroes. 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. 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.”

Montefiore statement

All surgeries and procedures and outpatient appointments for Thursday, January 12 and after will proceed as scheduled.

“Our bargaining team has been working around the clock with NYSNA’s leadership to come to an agreement. From the outset, we came to the table committed to bargaining in good faith and addressing the issues that were priorities for our nursing staff.

“Our tireless focus remained on ensuring Montefiore nurses have the best possible working environment, with significant wage and benefit enhancements, and we worked hard to secure this outcome with NYSNA. We know this strike impacted everyone—not just our nurses—and we were committed to coming to a resolution as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patient care.

Mt Sinai Hospital

We are pleased that The Mount Sinai Hospital reached a tentative agreement with NYSNA and the strike is over. Our proposed agreement is similar to those between NYSNA and eight other New York City hospitals. It is fair and responsible, and it puts patients first. We’re grateful to Governor Hochul, her staff and elected officials for their leadership and support throughout the negotiation process. To our incredible Mount Sinai team: thank you for your unwavering dedication to world-class patient care.

banner photo: file of Pinoy nurses who joined the New York strike last Monday, taken by Cesar “Boyet” Loverita



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