Nursing/health (217205)
Credit: CDC/Amanda Mills acquired from Public Health Image Libraryf/

The New York State Nurses Association has spent the past several months making noise on the negotiating front.

NYSNA’s 10,000 registered members are currently working with expired labor contracts at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Mount Sinai and Montefiore; the union had initially voted to authorize a strike in early April. That strike was postponed last week after reports of progress made at the bargaining table with the aforementioned three hospitals.

“This breakthrough comes after six months of negotiations,” read a NYSNA statement. “The progress in negotiations includes significant movement in safe staffing as well as the creation of a fund to improve and enforce safe staffing grids by the hiring of additional nurses.”

Talks were set to continue this past March 27.

When the NYSNA’s constituents initially voted to authorize a strike, the union presented documented reports of 3,800 “Protests of Assignment” signed by over 20,000 nurses employed by New York-Presbyterian, Mount Sinai and Montefiore. Some of the complaints in the report include: “Already short staffed and admissions keep coming (ER quickly filling up) with no imminent increase in staffing. Patients arriving every 5-10 minutes,” “Unsafe staffing in both nurseries. No NAs in both nurseries and acuity is high. Same situation on both fifth floor and sixth floor” and “Not enough RNs to admit and discharge patients…RNs not able to check on patients every 1-2 hours.”

In a letter showing support for the NYSNA, the Doctors Council told New York-Presbyterian, Mount Sinai and Montefiore officials to make a deal with the union as soon as possible so they can continue to provide the care that patients need.

“We firmly believe that continuity of quality care and best practices are better ensured with the care provided by the regular nurses,” read the Doctors Council letter. “The NYSNA nurses who live in our communities who have worked tirelessly for years in providing vital health services should be the ones caring for our communities. This is better for the patients and communities. We strongly encourage you to take the money that would be spent on any temporary nurses and apply that toward settling the contract with the nurses and their union, NYSNA.”

Meanwhile, the NYSNA also announced last week that they’ve reached their first contract agreement for the registered nurses at Putnam Hospital Center. The contract was “overwhelmingly” ratified by the NYSNA nurses.

The contract gives both full-time and part-time registered nurses access to free health care. Registered nurses at Putnam Hospital Center get a 3 percent raise upon ratification and an additional 4 percent for the remainder of the contract.

“The nurses at Putnam Hospital Center are on the front lines every day delivering life-saving care to patients in need,” said Linda Lipiro, RN, PACU, in a statement. “This contract is a win-win for the local community and all the registered nurses of Putnam Hospital Center who fought to make their voices heard for quality patient care. By providing safe staffing for our patients and recognizing the contributions of Putnam Hospital nurses, this first contract is a strong step forward to ensure access to high-quality care for the Hudson Valley community.”