New Rochelle nurses rally after hospital locks out dozens who went on strike

Coronavirus
New rochelle nurses strike rally

Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital nurses and local officials on Dec. 8, 2020, rally against the hospital’s decision to lock out dozens of nurses who went on strike over a labor dispute.

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NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital spoke out Tuesday, angry that dozens of nurses have not been allowed back to work following a two-day strike last week.

When contract talks stalled between the New York State Nurses Association and Montefiore, the nurses staged the strike calling for safer staffing levels.

Nurse Kathy Santoiemma said the hospital has refused to open the essential COVID-19 unit.

“Nurses who have cared for COVID patients since the pandemic began are being told to stay home, that they are not needed,” Santoiemma said.

Assemblyman Steven Otis attended Tuesday’s rally in support of the nurses.

“During COVID, they were on the front lines. Now, they are on the street. They’re in a negotiation that’s gone over two years. No labor negotiation should go on for two years,” Otis said.

The union members alleged that Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital is mixing COVID-19 patients with non-COVID-19 patients in the same unit, increasing the risk of infection.

Originally the epicenter of New York’s coronavirus outbreak, New Rochelle is currently designated by the state as a hot spot yellow microcluster zone. Westchester County released new infection numbers Tuesday and the city has 580 active cases.

New Rochelle City Councilwoman Yadira Ramos-Herbert said now is not the time to play games or politics.

“This is killing people. People will die as a result of these antics,” Ramos-Herbert said.

And as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked retired health care workers to help with the statewide coronavirus surge, Montefiore said 167 of the 200 nurses who went on strike are back at work.

In a statement, Montefiore said the union, “…operated irresponsibly by walking out on the New Rochelle community. Their misleading tactics seek attention instead of results. The NYSNA strike resulted in units being closed for safety reasons, which resulted in some nurses not being able to be recalled.”

The New York State Nurses Association said contract talks are expected to resume Thursday.

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