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7,000 nurses strike at 2 New York hospitals

7,000 nurses strike at 2 New York hospitals

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More than 7,000 nurses at two major New York hospitals walked off the job Monday morning to protest pay and staffing arrangements they say have overworked health care professionals during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Last-minute talks to avoid a work stoppage at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx broke down overnight, and the New York State Nurses Association rejected an earlier proposal by New York Gov. Cathy Hochul (D). to submit this dispute to binding arbitration.

Mount Sinai spokeswoman Lucia Lee said the union walked out of negotiations shortly after 1 a.m. Representatives of the two hospitals said the union rejected the same offer of a nearly 20 percent pay increase that nurses at the comparator institutions had accepted in previous bargaining talks.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) in a statement urged all parties to “remain at the negotiating table for as long as necessary to reach a voluntary agreement.”

Nurses’ unions across the country have been pushing for better staffing since the start of the pandemic, citing burnout that they say has depleted patient care options and put health professionals at risk.

More than 400 nurses walked off the job in hospital in Chicago on Jan. 3 for a three-day strike after layoffs exacerbated staff shortages. Nurses in Oakland and Berkeley, California., held a five-day strike beginning on Christmas Eve. Another 400 health workers – including nurses, surgical technicians, pharmacists, nutritionists and laboratory technicians – began a five-day strike in Marina del Rey, California.., on December 12, due to similar concerns.

The New York nurses were able to reach agreements with seven other hospitals around a common bargaining framework. Nurses will receive nearly a 20 percent pay rise over three years, and hospitals have agreed to improve staffing standards.

“From [New York City] nurses began negotiating our contracts four months ago, we said our number one issue is the chronic understaffing crisis that is hurting patient care,” New York State Nurses Association President Nancy Hagans told reporters in Friday. “Safe staffing means having enough nurses to provide safe, quality care to every patient. This is the issue that our employers have ignored, justified and fought against us.

Montefiore said in a statement that nurses “have decided to walk away from patient bedsides” during the strike and said the work stoppage “will cause fear and uncertainty in our community.”

“Our first priority is the safety of our patients. We are committed to minimizing disruption and encourage Mount Sinai nurses to continue to provide the world-class care they are known for despite the NYSNA strike,” Lee, the Mount Sinai spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The union said in a post on Twitter that patients go to one of two hospital systems “It does NOT cross our strike line.” He invited patients to join demonstrations after receiving care.

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