Nurses in New York City strike over wages and staffing levels | Labour Rights News

More than 7,000 nurses are on strike at two NYC hospitals, saying wages and low staffing levels have squeezed workers.

Nurses at two major New York City hospitals have gone on strike, citing low wages and staffing levels who have left many people are exhausted years after the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, about 3,600 nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and about 3,500 at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx began to go on strike.

“We were just heroes two years ago,” said Warren Urquhart, a nurse in the transplant and oncology unit. “We were on the front lines of the city when everything stopped. And now we need to stop so they can understand how much we mean to this hospital and to the patients.”

COVID-19 pandemic full of US hospitals and put a strain on healthcare workers, many of whom began to rethink their future in the profession as hospitals reaped huge profits. According to a 2022 survey by ShiftMed, approximately two-third nurses say they are considering leaving the profession within two years.

The federation of nurses, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), says staffing shortages at New York City hospitals have caused some staff to take care of twice as many patients as usual. .

Michelle Gonzalez, a registered nurse in Montefiore, told Al Jazeera: “We can’t stand what’s happening anymore. “We tried really hard to ask the hospital to change. We don’t want to do this but we feel like we have no other choice.”

Jed Basubas says he takes care of eight to 10 patients at a time, and nurse practitioner Juliet Escalon says she sometimes skips bathroom breaks to care for patients. Ashleigh Woodside says her 12-hour operations desk shifts frequently turn into 14-hour shifts, as low staffing forces workers to work longer shifts.

Elected officials weighed in, some offering words of encouragement.

New York congressman Jamaal Bowman said: “Nurses have made it through hell and back with their patients. “I stand with NYSNA nurses as they fight for fair working conditions.”

Montefiore and Mount Sinai said they had taken steps to minimize disruption during the strike and would rely on temporary staff, moving ambulances to other medical centers and postponing non-surgical operations. emergency.

Montefiore says it has agreed to hire more than 170 more nurses, and Mount Sinai says it has made progress “attracting and hiring new nurses, despite the global health worker shortages that are impacting clinics.” hospitals across the country”.

“We remain committed to seamless and compassionate care, recognizing that the union leadership’s decision will cause fear and instability in our community,” said Montefiore. “This is a sad day for New York City.”

Mount Sinai called the alliance “reckless”.

“We love our job. We want to take care of our patients. But we just want to do it in a safe and humane way, where we feel valued,” said Woodside, who has been a nurse for eight years.

The NYSNA had initially announced that other hospitals could go on strike on the same day such as Mount Sinai and Montefiore, which total about 16,000 nurses.

However, some have reached preliminary agreements that reduce the likelihood of strikes. Nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital reached a potential deal Saturday to increase staffing levels and raise wages by 18% over a three-year period.

Since contract negotiations began four months ago, the union has reached preliminary agreements at seven other New York City hospitals.


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