More than 7,000 nurses went on strike Monday at two major New York City hospitals after contract negotiations stalled over staffing and salaries.
Some 3,500 nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and about 3,600 nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan had walked off the job.
The privately owned hospitals had postponed nonemergency surgeries, diverted ambulances to other medical centers and pulled in temporary staffers amid the walkout. They also assigned administrators with nursing backgrounds to pitch in.
Both hospitals had also been preparing for a walkout by transferring patients, including intensive-care newborns at Mount Sinai.
The strikes in New York City were the latest in a series within the health care industry in recent years. Those union members who were on the front lines during the three-year battle with the Covid pandemic claim the system can no longer function with the widespread shortages that have arisen due to the outbreak of the virus.
The union representing the nurses at the two hospitals, the New York State Nurses Association, said an offer of 19% pay hikes over three years wasn’t enough to solve staffing shortages.
Montefiore said it had agreed to add 170 more nurses. Mount Sinai’s administration said the union’s focus on nurse-to-patient ratios “ignores the progress we have made to attract and hire more new nurses, despite a global shortage of healthcare workers that is impacting hospitals across the country.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) urged the union and the hospitals late Sunday to take their dispute to binding arbitration. Montefiore’s administration had said it was willing to let an arbitrator settle the contract “as a means to reaching an equitable outcome.”
The union did not immediately accept the proposal. In a statement, it said Hochul “should listen to the frontline COVID nurse heroes and respect our federally-protected labor and collective bargaining rights.”
Nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital ratified a deal Saturday that will give 4,000 nurses raises of 7%, 6%, and 5% over the next three years while also increasing staffing levels. That deal has been seen as a template for the negotiations with other hospital systems.
Nurses at two satellite facilities within the Mount Sinai system also tentatively agreed to contracts Sunday. But there was no such deal at the system’s flagship hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.