Nurses from three of the city’s largest hospitals are threatening to strike in two weeks, their union announced Monday.
The New York State Nurses Association submitted its 10-day notice for a strike on April 2, potentially impacting more than 10,000 nurses at the Montefiore Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital systems if the union’s demands aren’t met during contract negotiations.
“This is a long-standing issue that predates the contract dispute. It has to do with the simple language that there are not enough nurses to do the job right,” said Carl Ginsburg, a spokesman for the NYSA.
“There are 10,000 nurses and I would describe them as irate,” he added. “They are extremely unhappy at years of fruitless efforts to create and enforce a system in which a safe number of patients is assigned per nurse.”
More than 97 percent of the nurses at the hospitals voted this month to authorize a strike, according to the union.
The hospitals have argued that rigid staffing ratios would lower patient care and increase costs that could result in layoffs of other care teams, according to the New York Hospital Alliance, a multi-employer association representing the hospitals. Following NYSA’s notice, the alliance filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the union.
"Despite our offer of significant wage increases, pension and health benefit funding, and an explicit offer to explore increased staffing, union leadership has called on their nurses to walk away from patients’ bedsides so they can advance their political agenda of mandating rigid, inflexible staffing ratios,” said a spokesman for the New York City Hospital Alliance in a statement.
Ginsburg said registered nurses at the hospitals were sometimes left to care for more than 18 patients each and that the hospitals have not been responsive to their pitch.
“We’ve had 12 or 14 negotiating sessions and we didn’t get anywhere,” Ginsburg said. “It’s been dead in the water.”