A nurses strike at two major New York City hospitals could take place as soon as Monday morning as negotiations have failed to reach a deal. Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore in the Bronx have yet to come to an agreement with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) over staffing levels, despite agreeing to meet wage demands.
Tentative deals have been made with seven other hospitals, including pay increases of 19.1% over three years and promises to increase staffing to address the union’s concerns of nurses being overworked. NYSNA plans to strike at 6 a.m. if a deal is not reached. New York Governor Kathy Hochul suggested binding arbitration, but the union rejected the idea.
The hospitals affected by the potential nurses strike have been preparing for the walkout since the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) gave notice of their plans 10 days ago. Montefiore has released a notice to staff, obtained by CNN, instructing nurses on how to quit the union and continue working if they wish to do so.
Mount Sinai, which operates two hospitals that reached deals on Sunday evening in addition to the one still facing a strike, transferred infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at the end of last week. The hospitals facing the possibility of a strike have also postponed some elective procedures. The NYSNA claims that the hospitals will spend more on hiring temporary nurses at a greater cost, and argues that they should agree to their demands for additional staffing and pay raises.
As Mount Sinai has offered a wage increase of 19.1%, the same offer accepted by unions at other hospitals, but the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) has rejected the offer. In a statement, Mount Sinai accused the NYSNA of “jeopardizing patients’ care” and forcing nurses to choose between their commitment to patient care and their own well-being.
The tentative deals reached in recent days still need to be ratified by union members before they can be implemented. Strikes have become more prevalent in the United States in recent years due to tight labor markets and dissatisfaction with working conditions.
According to data from Cornell University, there were 385 strikes in 2022, a 42% increase from the previous year. The US Labor Department recorded 20 major strikes involving 1,000 or more workers in the first 11 months of 2022, a 33% increase from the same period in 2021. Many of these strikes were by nursing unions, with several citing instances of burnout and health problems among their members. Four of the 20 strikes reported by the Labor Department last year involved nurses unions, the largest being a three-day strike by the Minnesota Nurses Association involving 13 hospitals in the state.