NYC nurses strike and win historic contract
After a successful three-day strike in January, nurses at Mount Sinai and Montefiore in New York City won and ratified historic contracts that include enforceable nurse-to-patient staffing ratios with expedited arbitration and potential financial penalties payable to nurses when employers fail to uphold contractual safe staffing standards. Both facilities improved upon existing staffing standards — in some areas exceeding California nurse-to-patient ratios. New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) members at both hospitals voted to ratify their contracts by 98 percent. Local, national, and international news covered the strike, including ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, CNN, ABC Channel 7, and more.
“With their historic victory, NYSNA members at Montefiore Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital sparked a national movement to win wall-to-wall enforceable safe staffing ratios to make sure there are always enough nurses at the bedside of every patient at every hospital across the nation,” said NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN. “Although it will take time for nurses and patients to fully implement this victory on the hospital floors, change begins now. The new staffing standards in our contracts must now go to the New York State Department of Health and will become the new staffing standards to be enforced by law, as well. These improved standards won’t just be on paper because nurses won concrete enforcement, including expedited arbitration and enhanced remedies, including potential financial penalties for the hospital if they fail to follow the staffing ratios.”
The two hospitals that went on strike before reaching contract agreements are the latest in a series of NYC private-sector hospitals that campaigned together for new contracts. All of the facilities, including BronxCare Health System, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, Montefiore Bronx, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, NewYork-Presbyterian, Richmond University Medical Center, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center won better staffing standards and enforcement, protected health care benefits, and increased salaries by 7 percent, 6 percent, and 5 percent during the three-year contract period. Only One Brooklyn Health facilities, Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, continue to be at the bargaining table.
The NYC strike wasn’t the only example of nurses rising up for safe staffing and better patient care – just the latest. NYSNA Director at Large and Montefiore nurse Benny Matthew, RN, spoke to the Washington Post to highlight the unsafe working conditions that have pushed waves of nurses strikes in New York, Minnesota, California, and even the United Kingdom.
New York Times columnist Lydia Polgreen interviewed several NYSNA nurses when shaping her column about the national crisis of nurse understaffing. The piece, “Nurses Are Burned Out and Fed Up. For Good Reason,” concludes, “We spend a lot of time in our politics talking about the need for meaningful jobs that support a middle-class life. It is hard to imagine a more meaningful job than nursing. But to get people interested in doing this job, and sticking with it for the long haul, we need to invest in making it sustainable as a long-term career, imbued with the respect and dignity it deserves. Our lives depend on it.”