NY nurses ratify agreement that ended strike

NEW YORK (HPD) — Nurses who went on strike at two prominent New York City hospitals have ratified an agreement reached to end the walkout, their union said Tuesday.

The New York State Nurses Association said 98% of its members at Mount Sinai Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center voted in favor of the contracts.

The agreements stipulate cumulative salary increases of 19% over three years, commitments to hire more staff and mechanisms to enforce certain levels of hiring, including fines to be paid to nurses if hospitals do not comply, according to the union.

“While it will take time for nurses and patients to fully implement this victory in hospitals, the change begins now,” the association’s president, Nancy Hagans, said in a statement Tuesday.

Montefiore was pleased with the ratification, saying that “the historic 19% salary increase, expanded benefits and unprecedented commitments to maintain hiring levels” reflect the respect the hospital has for its nurses.

Mount Sinai President Dr. David Reich said in a memo to staff that the newly ratified contract “puts patients first” and that the hospital looks forward to “continuing our mission of providing safe, compassionate and equitable medical care.”

Together, the hospitals employ 7,000 unionized nurses.

Hiring levels were a point of contention during negotiations, with unions complaining that staff shortages were hurting nurses and patients. The hospitals said they were facing a nationwide nursing shortage, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The January 9-12 strike followed walkouts by six nurses unions that have a combined 32,000 members in different locations across the United States last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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