More than 7,000 nurses at two major New York City hospitals walked out starting at 6 a.m. ET Monday after negotiations aimed at avoiding a strike broke down overnight.
Tentative agreements were reached Several new contracts include nurses at several hospitals in recent days Late Sunday Evening. But talks at three locations, Mount Sinai Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, failed overnight.
“After midnight negotiations at Montefiore and Mount Sinai hospitals yesterday, no tentative agreements were reached. Today, more than 7,000 nurses at the two hospitals are striking for fairer contracts that improve patient care,” the New York State Nurses Association said in a statement Monday.
Both hospitals said Monday morning that efforts to reach an agreement had failed.
NYSNA leadership walked out of negotiations after 1 a.m. ET, rejecting the governor’s solution to avoid a strike by refusing to accept the same 19.1% pay raise agreed to by eight other hospitals, including two other Mount Sinai Health System campuses. ” Mount Sinai spokeswoman Lucia Lee said in a statement to CNN.
It’s “a sad day for New York City,” Montefiore said.
“Despite Montefiore’s offer of a 19.1% collective wage increase — the same offer agreed to at the wealthiest of our peers — and a commitment to create more than 170 new nursing positions … NYSNA’s leadership has decided to walk away from patient bedsides,” the medical center said in a statement.
But while the union has agreed to similar raises at other hospitals, its main complaint at Mount Sinai and Montefiore is that nurses are overworked and facing burnout.
“We need administration to come to the table and provide better staffing,” NYSNA President Nancy Hagens said in a press call Sunday afternoon.
The union insists it is striking in an effort to improve patient care.
“Going to a hospital to get the care you need does not cross our strike line. Patients should seek a hospital immediately if they need it,” the statement said. “We should be the providers of that care, but instead our employers have forced us to stay out.”
According to Hagans, Montefiore has 760 nursing vacancies, adding that “a nurse in the emergency department is often responsible for a standard of three patients instead of 20.”
On Sunday evening, New York Governor Cathy Hochul urged management and the union to agree to binding arbitration as a way to avoid a strike. Although the management of both hospitals accepted the idea, the union did not.
“We will not give up our fight to ensure there are enough nurses at the bedside for our patients,” the union said in response to Hochul’s arbitration suggestion.
New York Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday night encouraged all parties to “stay at the negotiating table no matter how long it takes to reach a voluntary agreement.”
Hospitals are gearing up for strike action after the nurses’ union announced its plans 10 days ago. Affected hospitals plan to pay temporary “travel” nurses, and some have already begun transferring patients.
Montefiore issued an announcement to employees, which was obtained by CNN, telling nurses how to leave the union and stay on the job if they want to continue caring for their patients.
Mount Sinai, which operates two hospitals that reached agreements Sunday evening, is still facing a strike. Started changing children Born last weekend in the intensive care unit. Facing the possibility of strikes, hospitals have already taken steps to postpone some elective procedures.
The union says hospitals will spend more to hire temporary nurses at a significantly higher cost. It is arguing that the hospitals must accede to their demands to hire more staff and give the union the raises it is seeking.
“As nurses, our primary concern is patient safety,” Hagans said in a statement Friday. “Yet nurses … are forced to work understaffed, stretched to our breaking point, sometimes with one nurse responsible for 20 patients in the emergency department. This is not safe for nurses or our patients.
Hospitals say they are doing what they can to hire more nurses.
“Mount Sinai is appalled by NYSNA’s reckless actions,” Mount Sinai said in a statement Friday. “Unionization affects patient care, and it forces Mount Sinai nurses to choose between a commitment to patient care and their own livelihood.”
Nurses at the first hospital to reach a tentative agreement, New York-Presbyterian, upheld the deal in a decision announced by the union on Saturday. 57% of nurses voted yes and 43% against. The tentative agreements reached over the past few days must be ratified by rank-and-file union members before they can take effect.
Strikes have become more common across the country as tight labor markets and unhappiness with working conditions have forced union workers to flex their muscles more often at the bargaining table.
According to the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, there were 385 strikes in 2022, a 42% increase from 270 in 2021. The US Department of Labor, which tracks only large strikes of 1,000 or more workers, recorded 20 strikes in the first 11 months of 2022, a 33% increase from the same period in 2021.
Among the strikeouts recorded were several nurses’ strikes, with many unions citing burnout and health issues among members.
Four of the 20 strikes announced by the Labor Department last year involved nurses’ unions. The largest is A Three-day strike By the 15,000 members of the Minnesota Nurses Association, which covers 13 hospitals in the state.
— CNN’s Tina Burnside, Artemis Moshtagian and Ramishah Maruf contributed to this report.