Nurses at two of New York City’s largest hospitals, Montefiore Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital, were set to go on strike on Monday in a dispute over pay and staffing levels. The walkout would involve as many as 3,500 nurses at Montefiore and around 3,600 at Mount Sinai. The New York State Nurses Association, which represents the workers, said that the strike was necessary due to chronic understaffing, which leaves nurses with too many patients to care for.
The hospitals have been preparing for the strike by transferring patients, diverting ambulances to other institutions, postponing non-emergency medical procedures, and arranging for temporary staffing. Governor Kathy Hochul urged the union and the hospitals to take their dispute to binding arbitration. Montefiore’s administration said that it was willing to let an arbitrator settle the contract as a means to reach an equitable outcome. However, the union did not immediately accept this proposal, stating that the Governor should respect their labour and collective bargaining rights.
The negotiations with Montefiore and Mount Sinai are the last in a group of hospitals with contracts that expired simultaneously. The Nurses Association had initially warned that it would strike at all of them at the same time, which would have been a significant disruption in care, even in a city like New York with many hospitals. However, one-by-one, the other hospitals have struck agreements with the union as the deadline approached. For example, nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital ratified a deal that will give them raises of 7 per cent, 6 per cent, and 5 per cent over the next three years while also increasing staffing levels. This deal, which covers 4,000 nurses, has been seen as a template for negotiations with other hospital systems.