NEW YORK (PIX11) — As the clock ticked down toward a possible strike Monday, New York City nurses reiterated that they don’t want to go on strike, but insisted they’d been pushed to the brink by hospitals.
At the worst moment in negotiations, around 17,000 nurses could have gone on strike. Tentative agreements have since been reached at all but Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center. If an agreement is not reached, about 3,500 nurses at Montefiore and 3,625 Mount Sinai nurses could go on strike on Monday, according to the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA.) Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday called for binding arbitration so that a resolution could be reached.
“The New York State Department of Health will continue to enforce staffing requirements under the law at these hospitals to maintain the delivery of essential health care services to the community and protect patient health and safety. Likewise, the Health Department will continue to ensure that all providers are meeting the requirements of the law,” she said. “We will continue to work with partners and all parties so that New York City hospitals and nurses can continue to play their critical role in caring for New Yorkers.”
A spokesperson for Montefiore said they agreed with Hochul’s request and noted officials at Montefiore were prepared to proceed with the arbitration process.
“We welcome this development as a means to reaching an equitable outcome,” the Montefiore spokesperson said. “We hope that NYSNA’s leadership accepts the governor’s proposal and rescinds their strike threat.”
Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside were among the hospitals that reached tentative agreements with NYSNA. The agreement includes a 19.1% wage increase over three years, according to a spokesperson. The same deal was offered to nurses at The Mount Sinai Hospital
“We are continuing to negotiate in good faith with NYSNA and hope they will accept our offer, which would provide an additional $51,000 in cash compensation for each nurse, plus $19,500 in medical benefit payments, over three years,” the spokesperson said. “We hope they will similarly rescind their strike notice at The Mount Sinai Hospital.”
NYSNA union leadership meanwhile called on Hochul to join them in “putting patients over profits and to enforce existing nurse staffing laws.”
“Gov. Hochul should listen to front-line COVID nurse heroes and respect our federally-protected labor and collective bargaining rights,” the union said in a statement. “Nurses don’t want to strike. Bosses have pushed us to strike by refusing to seriously consider our proposals to address the desperate crisis of unsafe staffing that harms our patients.”
Mayor Eric Adams implored everyone to stay at the negotiating tables for as long as needed to reach an agreement. He said the hospital system was prepared to meet the challenges if a deal is not reached and a strike happens.
“New York City Emergency Management is preparing to activate our situation room to monitor hospital operations citywide if a strike occurs and will be joined by representatives from the New York City Department of Health, NYC Health + Hospitals, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and additional public and private agencies,” Adams said. “The Fire Department of New York City has contingency plans in place to reroute ambulances and NYC Health + Hospitals has emergency strategies to handle a surge in patients.”