Thousands of New York City nurses to end three-day strike after reaching deal with hospitals

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More than 7,000 New York City nurses will return to work on Thursday after tentative agreements with two large hospital systems were reached in the early morning hours, ending a historic three-day strike over chronic staffing issues.

Hundreds of striking workers picketed Mount Sinai in Harlem and Montefiore campuses in The Bronx beginning 9 January demanding sustainable nurse-parroting ratios.

New York State Nurses Association, a union representing more than 40,000 nurses in the city, warned that unsafe staffing levels were endangering patients and burning out healthcare workers in the midst of the ongoing public health crisis from Covid-19 and a wave of flu and respiratory illnesses.

“Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care,” NYSNA President Nancy Hagans said in a statement to The Independent.

“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.”

According to the New York State Nurses Association, Mount Sinai nurses won an agreement for “wall-to-wall safe staffing ratios for all inpatient units” with “firm enforcement” to ensure compliance with staffing levels.

The agreement will take effect immediately, marking what the union called a “historic breakthrough”with a hospital system “that refused to consider ratios that nurses have been demanding for decades”.

An agreement with Montefiore nurses will ensure new safe staffing ratios in the Emergency Department, “with new staffing language and financial penalties for failing to comply with safe staffing levels in all units,” according to the union.

“Our bargaining team has been working around the clock with NYSNA’s leadership to come to an agreement,” Montefiore said in 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.”

The hospital said it focused on ensuring the nurses had “the best possible working environment, with significant wage and benefit enhancements” through the deal with the union.

“We know this strike impacted everyone — not just our nurses — and we were committed to coming to a resolution as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patient care,” the hospital said.

A post on Mount Sinai’s website said the hospital was pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the union. The Associated Press sent an email to a hospital representative seeking comment.

Several other private hospitals around the city reached deals with the union as the strike deadline loomed. The agreements included raises totaling 19 per cent over three years.

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