After three days on the picketing line for safe staffing, more 7,000 nurses returned to work Thursday morning when tentative agreements were met with two private New York City hospitals.
“Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios in both Montefiore and Mount Sinai,” said Nancy Hagen, registered nurse and president of the nurse association. “Today we can return to work with our head held high.”
Montefiore announced the deal at 3 a.m., while Mount Sinai followed shortly after.
The nurses have been striking over safe staffing rather than a larger paycheck. Montefiore Medical Center had more than 700 vacant nurse positions, which left nurses burned out, causing an inability to properly care for patients.
As the strike went on, the hospital did not close. That meant challenges for patient care. The hospitals used high-cost temporary nursing services to make up for missing nurses who were on strike. The hospital was overcrowded with wait times longer than usual. Ambulances were forced to divert to other hospitals, and non-emergency surgeries were postponed.
The hospitals announced Thursday all surgeries and appointments would continue as scheduled.
“We came to these bargaining sessions with great respect for our nurses and with proposals that reflect their priorities in terms of wages, benefits, safety and staffing,” said Philip O. Ozuah, president and CEO of the medical center.
However, throughout the strike both Montefiore and Mount Sinai hospitals criticized the strike calling it unnecessary after stating their deals were similar to the other six hospitals.
The association announced that Wyckoff hospital also reached a tentative deal in the night and withdrew their 10-day strike notice.
“Our nurses are essential workers who during their onset of the pandemic risked their lives to provide around-the-clock patient-centered care to our residents and families and continue to do so every day at hospitals across our city. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and congratulate them on this monumental victory,” said Bronx borough president, Vanessa Gibson.
Read the Jan. 19 edition of The Riverdale Press for more information about the nurses strike resolution.