Striking nurses in New York City reach deal with hospitals

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NEW YORK — Two hospitals in New York City have reached tentative contracts with thousands of striking nurses ending the strike, the nurses’ union announced Thursday.

The nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, walked out early Monday after negotiations with management stalled at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Each has more than 1,000 beds and 3,500 or more union nurses.

The union has highlighted staffing as a major concern, saying nurses who have worked through the debilitating spike of the coronavirus pandemic are far understaffed as there are too many jobs open. Nurses say they’ve had to work overtime, treat twice as many patients as they should, and skip meals and even toilet breaks.

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“Through our unity and putting everything on the line, we won enforceable safe-staff ratios in both Montefiore and Mount Sinai, where nurses went on strike for patient care,” NYSNA President Nancy Hagans 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.”

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The private non-profit hospitals say they are grappling with a widespread nurse shortage that was exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Our negotiating team has been working around the clock with NYSNA leadership to reach an agreement,” Montefiore said in a statement. “From the start, we came to the table determined to negotiate in good faith and address the issues that were a priority for our nursing staff.”

The hospital said it was aiming to ensure the nurses had “the best working environment possible, with significant pay and benefit improvements” through the union deal.

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“We know that this strike has affected everyone – not just our nurses – and we were determined to find a solution as quickly as possible to minimize disruption to patient care,” the hospital said.

Several other private hospitals in the city made deals with the union as the strike TBEN approached. The agreements include increases totaling 19% over three years.

Mount Sinai and Montefiore said before the strike that they had offered the same pay raises.