Nurses at embattled New York Eye and Ear Infirmary win new labor contract

nurses wearing red picketing outside New York Eye and Ear
Nurses held an informational picket in the East Village on June 4, 2024, calling on the hospital to settle a fair contract and stay open for care.
Photo credit: NYSNA

Nurses at Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary based in Lower Manhattan won a long-fought battle for better wages and other benefits, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) announced on Tuesday.

Members of NYSNA, which represents more than 42,000 registered nurses across the Empire State, reached a tentative agreement for a new labor contract with hospital management on June 13. The nurses have been working despite their previous contract having expired on April 30. 

The group ratified the new contract with a 100% vote in support of the deal. The three-year contract puts the nurses on the “path to pay parity” with other Mount Sinai nurses in the city. Their wage increase will follow the pattern set in January 2023 by other NYSNA NYC private-sector nurses, which features annual increases of 7, 6 and 5% each year of the contract. 

Another major benefit of the new contract includes better layoff and terminal benefit language in the event of such an occurrence, elimination or relocation of services, or closure — a real possibility since Mount Sinai announced the looming closure of the infirmary and nearby Beth Israel Medical Center

Retaining nurses

Nurses were also successful in achieving additional experience pay to help mitigate nurse retention at the site, as well as reduced healthcare costs.

“This contract is a pathway to continued quality care at Eye and Ear,” local bargaining unit president and Mount Sinai Eye and Ear nurse John Paul Montemayor, RN, said. “Getting closer to pay parity with other Mount Sinai facilities will help us retain nurses, and the improved layoff language will give nurses security as we stay and fight for the future of the specialty care we provide to the downtown community and beyond.”

Nurses from the infirmary rallied on June 4 not only looking to settle on a contract, but also keep the hospital open for care. Members of the community and elected officials attended to show their solidarity and support for the healthcare workers while advocating for the infirmary to remain open. 

“Nurses and our patients deserve fairness, dignity, and respect,” said Maria Teresa Moriarty, RN, a 17-year veteran nurse at Mount Sinai Eye and Ear. “This contract is a start to rebuilding the family and community atmosphere at this hospital. It will help deliver safe staffing and the quality specialty care our patients have relied on for over a century and must continue to be available.”    

people wearing red at a rally advocating for better work benefits for nurses at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
Nurses held an informational picket in the East Village on June 4, 2024, calling on the hospital to settle a fair contract and stay open for care.Photo credit: NYSNA

Mount Sinai plans to close Beth Israel on July 12. New York State Health Department is reviewing the hospital’s closure plan. Plans for Eye and Ear are pending, though published reports mention it can possibly become an urgent care center

Community members and elected officials have been rallying to keep Beth Israel open since Mount Sinai announced its closure in September 2023. 

amNew York Metro reached out to Mount Sinai for comment and is awaiting a response.