NYC nurses strike enters Day 2 with talks set to resume at 1 hospital

The nurses strike in New York City entered Day 2, with no contract agreement yet between the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and two hospitals, Mount Sinai Main and Montefiore Bronx.

Picketing started again at 7 a.m. on Tuesday at four locations.

Talks resumed at Montefiore Monday afternoon, and although an agreement was not reached, both sides have indicated they are close and will reconvene Tuesday.

Mount Sinai and NYSNA have not returned to the table since breaking off at 1 a.m. Monday, and no new talks are scheduled.

The union also announced that Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, and BronxCare all approved their contracts.

As many as 3,500 nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and about 3,600 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan walked off the job Monday after last-minute talks to prevent the strike broke down overnight.

Hundreds picketed, some singing the chorus from Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” outside Mount Sinai.

It was one of many New York hospitals deluged with COVID-19 patients as the virus made the city an epicenter of deaths in spring 2020.

NYSNA says members had to strike because chronic understaffing leaves them caring for too many patients.

Jed Basubas said he generally attends to eight to 10 patients at a time, twice the ideal number in the units where he works. Nurse practitioner Juliet Escalon said she sometimes skips bathroom breaks to attend to patients.

So does Ashleigh Woodside, who said her 12-hour operating-room shifts often stretch to 14 hours because short staffing forces her and others to work overtime.

“We love our job. We want to take care of our patients. But we just want to do it safely and in a humane way, where we feel appreciated,” Woodside said.

The hospitals said they had offered the same raises – totaling 19% over three years – that the union had accepted at several other facilities where contract talks reached tentative agreements in recent days.

Montefiore said it had agreed to add 170 more nurses.

Mount Sinai’s administration said the union’s focus on nurse-to-patient ratios “ignores the progress we have made to attract and hire more new nurses, despite a global shortage of healthcare workers that is impacting hospitals across the country.”

The city is monitoring the strike at the two hospital systems, which account for 16% of all hospital beds in the city. Montefiore accounts for more than half of the beds in the Bronx.

The overall effect on the city’s hospital system appear to be minor so far.

Hospitals are said to be busy but managing, a city official said.

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