- Members of the New York State Nurses Association are planning an April 2 strike at Mount Sinai, Montefiore and NewYork-Presbyterian health systems after contract negotiations stalled over staffing levels.
- NYSNA revealed Monday it was giving the systems 10-day notice of the strike, alleging the hospitals' refusal to hire more bedside caregivers forces nurses to care for as many as 19 patients at a time, putting patients at risk.
- The New York City Hospital Alliance, which includes the three systems, immediately filed an unfair labor practice charge claiming NYSNA is refusing to bargain in good faith by "preconditioning negotiations over nurse staffing issues." The union's contract ended Dec. 31.
Hospitals across the country are dealing with contract and labor disputes — and in some cases even strikes. Whether the issue is staff levels and working conditions or wages and benefits, such disputes can be costly for health systems and affect patient care and safety.
The New York City Hospital Alliance, like many health systems negotiating new contracts with nurse's unions, is refusing to meet NYSNA's staffing expectations. The union has been picketing for safe staffing since the expiration of their contract, originally signed in 2015. The Alliance claims NYSNA's strike order based on staffing demands is "unlawful" and "bad faith bargaining."
Kaiser Permanente is facing National Labor Relation Board prosecution over charges it refused to negotiate a new contract covering 85,000 employees across eight states and the District of Columbia. In the complaint, SEIU United Healthcare Workers West and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions alleged Kaiser tried to set bargaining conditions that would ban unions from any political actions that could impact the organization.
Last year, nurse-patient ratios disputes rattled for-profit systems Tenet and Community Health Systems and nonprofits University of California Health and Kaiser Permanente, and led to a midterm ballot initiative in Massachusetts.
More than 10,000 NYSNA members work across the three health systems, and more than 97% voted to authorize the strike — a landslide.
In justifying the strike, the union cited reports released last month documenting some 3,800 "protests of assignment" signed by more than 20,000 nurses working at the three hospitals in 2018. Among the conditions blamed on low staffing were patients left on stretchers in hallways for days at a time, unsafe staffing in nurseries and insufficient nurses to admit and discharge patients.
One story from Montefiore complained of "50 patients in a waiting room with a wait time of 6 hours and 24 minutes … RNs covering 19+ patients resulting in no time to medicate or document in accord with policies."
The union said it does not welcome the strike, but feels compelled to take action to ensure patient safety. "We are patient advocates. We are raising a red flag. We are saying enough is enough," NYSNA said.