A tentative deal has been reached that will end a nurses’ strike in New York that has seen thousands walk off the job this week.
The 7,000 nurses went on strike from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx on Monday after negotiations for a new contract between the management of those two hospitals and the nurses’ labor union, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), failed.
The union has emphasized staffing levels as one of the nurses’ top concerns, saying that they have been stretched thin because of many open positions, forcing them to work overtime, take on double the number of patients they should have and skip meals and bathroom breaks.
The union said the hospitals established concrete staffing ratios as part of the deal, and Montefiore also agreed to create partnerships between nurses and students to recruit local nurses in the area.
It said nurses were expected to return to their jobs on Thursday. They need to vote to approve the deal before it is officially in effect.
“Today, we can return to work with our heads held high, knowing that our victory means safer care for our patients and more sustainable jobs for our profession,” said NYSNA President Nancy Hagans.
The hospitals have said they have faced staffing shortages that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.
Montefiore said in a statement that it was committed to negotiating in good faith and wanted to ensure its nurses have the “best possible working environment, with significant wage and benefit enhancements.”
“We know this strike impacted everyone — not just our nurses — and we were committed to coming to a resolution as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patient care,” it said.
CNN reported that Montefiore said the agreement includes the addition of 170 new nursing positions, a 19.1 percent increase in pay, lifetime health coverage for eligible retirees and “significantly” more nurses being added to the emergency room.
Mount Sinai said in a statement that the proposed agreement is similar to those between the union and eight other hospitals in New York City, and it prioritizes patients.
Agreements that the NYSNA made with other hospitals in the area as a possible strike approached include a raise of 19 percent over the course of three years. Both hospitals had said before the strike that they offered the same pay increases.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.