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More than 7,000 nurses are on strike Monday morning across the Big Apple – down from the initial 10,000 planning to walk out three days ago – hours after union representatives at two major hospitals walked away from the bargaining table despite Gov. Kathy Hochul’s calls for arbitration.
The New York State Nurses Association, representing more than 40,000 workers statewide, said more than 7,000 nurses at two hospitals in New York City are on strike "for fair contracts that improve patient care."
The union said after bargaining late into the night at Montefiore and Mount Sinai Hospital Sunday, no tentative agreements were reached.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, picketing lines are planned at four locations — Montefiore Moses, Montefiore Weiler, Montefiore Hutch, all in the Bronx, as well as at Mount Sinai Hospital, located in east Harlem in the borough of Manhattan.
NEW YORK CITY PREPS FOR 8,700 NURSES TO GO ON STRIKE, IMPACTING EMERGENCY TRIAGES AT 3 MAJOR HOSPITALS FILE – Zach Clapp, a nurse in the Pediatric Cardiac ICU at Mount Sinai Hospital, signs a board demanding safe staffing during a rally by NYSNA nurses from NY Presbyterian and Mount Sinai, March 16, 2021, in New York. With a strike deadline looming, c ((AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) / AP Newsroom)
Mount Sinai Hospital ripped the nursing union for what it deemed "reckless behavior."
"NYSNA continues its reckless behavior, rejecting Governor Hochul’s proposal for binding arbitration," the hospital said. "The Governor’s proposal would have provided a path to avoid this strike, which sadly is forcing nurses at The Mount Sinai Hospital to leave their patients’ bedsides."
NYSNA leadership reportedly walked out of negotiations shortly after 1:00 a.m., "refusing to accept the exact same 19.1 percent increased wage offer agreed to by eight other hospitals, including two other Mount Sinai Health System campuses, and disregarding the Governor’s solution to avoid a strike," Mount Sinai Hospital said in a statement early Monday.
Montefiore Medical Center also placed blame on the union for so-far unsuccessful negotiations.
A medical worker transports a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital, April 1, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File / AP Newsroom)
"Despite Montefiore’s offer of a 19.1% compounded wage increase – the same offer agreed to at the wealthiest of our peer institutions – and a commitment to create over 170 new nursing positions, and despite a call from Governor Hochul for arbitration, NYSNA’s leadership has decided to walk away from the bedsides of their patients," their statement said. "Therefore, at 6AM, NYSNA nurses will be on strike and off the job. We remain committed to seamless and compassionate care, recognizing that the union leadership’s decision will spark fear and uncertainty across our community. This is a sad day for New York City."
Late Sunday, Hochul, a Democrat, released a statement asking for binding arbitration and calling on the Department of Health to enforce nurse staffing requirements under the law.
"No one puts more on the line to care for New Yorkers than our nurses, which is why my team has been pushing for a fair labor agreement for these dedicated professionals and to ensure they have safe working conditions," the governor said. "For weeks now, we have been working tirelessly with our partners in New York City to broker negotiations between the nurses and affected hospitals and our efforts have achieved significant progress. Strikes have been averted at New York Presbyterian, Richmond University Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center."
Medical workers enter Montefiore Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic, April 24, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File / AP Newsroom)
"Yet there remain outstanding issues at Montefiore and Mount Sinai, and I am now calling for binding arbitration so that all parties can swiftly reach a resolution," Hochul said. "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."
"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," she added.
The NYSNA will host a press conference planned for noon Monday at Mount Sinai Hospital.
FDNY paramedic Elizabeth Bonilla, right, wheels a patient into the emergency room ingest space at Montefiore Hospital, April 15, 2020, in the Bronx. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File / AP Newsroom)
Participants include New York Attorney General Letitia James, NYS AFL-CIO (New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) President Mario Cilento AFL, NYC Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and Council Member Gale Brewer.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday the city’s department of emergency management was preparing to activate its "situation room" to monitor hospital operations in real time and redirect ambulances during the planned strike. The FDNY has contingency plans in place to reroute ambulances and NYC Health + Hospitals has emergency strategies to handle a surge in patients.
"Nurses stand on the frontlines of our health care system, and we all were witness to their heroic actions during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic," Adams said. "If there is a nurses’ strike, hospitals in certain areas may experience impacts to operations, including possible delayed or limited service. We encourage all New Yorkers to call 911 only for emergencies, and be prepared to seek an alternate facility in case their preferred hospital is impacted."
Amid the strike, the nursing union encouraged New Yorkers not to delay medical care.
"To all of our patients, to all New Yorkers, we want to be absolutely clear: If you are sick, please do not delay getting medical care, regardless of whether we are on strike. Patients should seek hospital care immediately if they need it," the union said. "We would rather be the ones providing that care, but our bosses have pushed us to be out here instead. We appreciate solidarity from our patients — but going into the hospital to get the care you need is NOT crossing our strike line. In fact, we invite you to come join us on the strike line after you've gotten the care you need. We are out here so we can provide better patient care to you!"
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Nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside and West reached a tentative agreement Sunday afternoon that improves staffing standards and enforcement, protects healthcare and other benefits, including lowering the member costs for healthcre coverage, and increases salaries over three years of the contract 7%, 6 %, 5%, according to the union. BronxCare and The Brooklyn Hospital Center reached similar tentative agreements Saturday. Flushing Hospital Medical Center Ratification did so Friday.
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