New York City nurses have achieved a historic victory following a three-day strike for a fair contract. Negotiations between the nurses’ union and two major hospitals, Mount Sinai Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center, have led to a tentative agreement that includes new staffing ratios and enforcement measures for all inpatient units.
The strike, led by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), was a response to the hospitals’ refusal to accept the nurses’ demands for safer staffing requirements. Thanks to the this collective action, their demands have been met in a landmark victory that will ensure safer care for their patients and more sustainable jobs for their profession.
The new staffing ratios will take effect immediately and will include financial penalties if the hospitals fail to comply with safe staffing levels. In addition, the negotiations have resulted in community health improvements and nurse-student partnerships to recruit local Bronx nurses to stay as union nurses at Montefiore for the long run.
The nurses’ fight also drew attention to the lavish compensation of executives at both hospitals.
“While Montefiore and Mount Sinai are technically nonprofits, they frequently act like large corporations—with massive investments on Wall Street and overseas, and providers sidelined from essential care decision making,” The Lever‘s Matthew Cunningham-Cook reported earlier this week. “These nonprofit hospitals also boast huge executive salaries. Mount Sinai CEO Kenneth Davis made $5.6 million in 2019, the last year for which complete tax records are available. Montefiore CEO Philip Ozuah made $7.4 million in 2020. Montefiore disclosed providing an unnamed executive (or executives) with a chauffeur and first-class airfare in 2020.”
According to filings with the IRS, 15 executives at Mount Sinai made more than $1 million annually in 2019, while Montefiore disclosed ten in 2020, all making more than $1.5 million.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) voiced his support for the nurses on the picket line, saying, “If CEOs can double their pay, we can give workers a fair contract.”
The nurse’s union also issued a statement:
“New staffing ratios take effect immediately in a historic breakthrough for hospitals that refused to consider ratios that nurses have been demanding for (a) decade. At Montefiore, nurses will also return to work this morning after winning new safe staffing ratios in the Emergency Department, with new staffing language and financial penalties for failing to comply with safe staffing levels in all units. Nurses also won community health improvements and nurse-student partnerships to recruit local Bronx nurses to stay as union nurses at Montefiore for the long run.”
With everyone now returning to work with their heads held high, this victory is a testament to the power of collective action and a reminder that no demand is too great for our healthcare heroes.