Striking nurses at Mount Sinai in Manhattan and Montefiore in the Bronx reached a tentative agreement on Jan. 12, ending a three day strike which saw 7,100 walk off their jobs.
The New York State Nurses Association said its union members would return to the hospitals immediately, even before the tentative agreement was ratified by rank and file workers over the next few days bringing to a close a short strike that started Jan. 9.
New York Presbyterian Hospital and six other hospitals had reached agreements with the union before the strike deadline. Negotiations seemed to hinge as much on staffing levels as it did on pay hikes.
NYSNA president Nancy Hagans, who said Montefiore was understaffed by 700 nurses and Mount Sinai by 500, said the agreement was reached when hospital management acquiesced to the nurses’ requests for safer staffing ratios.
“From the beginning we said staffing was our top priority,” said Hagans. “Our nurses needed better staffing, and they needed patient-nurse ratio in our contract in order to move on...and that’s what we achieved last night,” she said at the Jan. 11 press conference after the strike ended. Hagans said that the nurses had preserved their healthcare benefits with lower member costs. They also won salary increases of 7 percent, 6 percent and 5 percent, bringing the average wage increase to 19.1 percent over 3 years.
“The last three days on the picket lines have been historic and inspiring,” said Hagans. “We are fighting for safe staffing and working conditions for ourselves so that nursing has a future to safely staff our hospital. To continue to be there for our patients. Nursing has to become a sustainable profession that keeps us at the bedside, now and for the future generation of nurses that we need to build up. This is a fight for nurses, for patients, and for all of us.”
“Our bargaining team has been working around the clock with NYSNA’s leadership to come to an agreement,” Montefiore said a statement. “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.”
Mount Sinai’s web site said only, “We are pleased that The Mount Sinai Hospital reached a tentative agreement with NYSNA and the strike is over.”
Mount Sinai and the NYSNA had earlier reached tentative agreements to avert a strike at the hosptials two west side campuses, Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West, where the pacts were already overwhelmingly approved by members.
“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,” said NYSNA’s Hagans, president of the NYSNA.
“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.” Nancy Hagans, president of NY State Nurses Association