In a dispute over salary and staffing levels, nurses at two of New York City’s top hospitals went on strike Monday after a weekend of discussions ended without a new contract being reached.
Up to 3,500 nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and about 3,600 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan participate in the walkout.
Patients may have care interruptions from things like ER visits and childbirth.
As a result of persistent understaffing that forces them to care for an excessive number of patients, the New York State Nurses Association, which represents the employees, claimed it was forced to take this severe action.
Nurses are reluctant to strike.
By rejecting our ideas to address the desperate situation of hazardous staffing that damages our patients, managers have forced us to strike, the union claimed in a statement late Sunday.
“We remain committed to seamless and compassionate treatment, realizing that the union leadership’s decision will generate anxiety and uncertainty across our community,” Montefiore officials said in a statement on Monday.
The hospital intended to fill nursing shifts with managers who were not union representatives.
The safety of our patients is our top priority, according to Mount Sinai officials who spoke on Monday.
Despite the NYSNA strike, we encourage the Mount Sinai nurses to continue offering the top-notch care for which they are renowned.
We are prepared to minimize inconvenience.
In preparation for a walkout, Montefiore and Mount Sinai moved patients, diverted ambulances to other facilities, delayed routine medical procedures, and made plans for temporary staffing.
Late Sunday, Governor Kathy Hochul encouraged the hospitals and the union to submit their disagreement to formal arbitration.
The management of Montefiore had said that it was prepared to let an arbitrator decide the contract “as a means to achieve an equitable resolution.”
The union did not immediately accept the plan.
Hochul, a Democrat, was urged in a statement to “listen to the frontline COVID nursing heroes and honor our legally protected labor and collective bargaining rights.”
The latest of a group of hospitals with contracts with the union that expired concurrently are Montefiore and Mount Sinai.
Even in a city with as many hospitals as New York, the Nurses Association had initially issued a warning that it would all be affected at once.
But as the deadline drew near, the other hospitals reached agreements with the union one by one.
A contract granting nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital salaries of 7%, 6%, and 5% over the following three years while simultaneously raising staffing levels was approved on Saturday.
This agreement, which affects 4,000 nurses, has served as a model for discussions with other hospital systems.
On Sunday, contracts for nurses at two Mount Sinai facilities were also reached in a preliminary manner.
However, talks continued at the system’s main hospital on the East Side of Manhattan.
According to Mount Sinai’s administration, the union’s emphasis on staffing-to-patient ratios “ignores the efforts we have made to attract and hire more new nurses, despite a global shortage of healthcare workers that is affecting hospitals across the country,” they said in a statement.