Last week, it came down to a strike for two large New York Hospitals to know Nurses were serious and are willing to walk off the job to be head! Here is the story
Last week we saw more than 7,000 nurses at Mount Sinai Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center seeking safe staffing ratios and better pay went on strike for three days. The hospitals were given 10 day notice after months of negotiations that nurses would strike if they did not get a contract that met their demands. Negotiations did not result in a suitable contract by the deadline so the nurses left their units and took to the streets on 1/9/23. After 3 days, a tentative contract was reached and nurses went back to work on 1/12/23.
I was leery when I heard the agreement, so I asked Veronica Chepak, a Clinical Coordinator at Montefiore Care Management and part of our new Virtual Nursing Network that I recently formed to help nurses from all settings having work challenges to talk to an experienced nurse(s) on how they can address these situations.
My question to Veronica was: “I know both hospitals came to a tentative agreement, but how will they be able to fulfill the agreement with so many open slots for nurses? How much time do they have? Do you feel good about things?? Let me know.”
Veronica replied: “They have a year to fill most positions. The New York State Nurses Association will be keeping a close watch to ensure they follow through. Overall, I feel hopeful.”
More strikes are being planned in other parts of the country for the same reasons, safe workplaces, safe staffing ratios, and other challenges nurses face and all nurses should follow them closely. Nurses are showing they are not going to take it any longer and are taking to the streets to let the public know what is happening in hospitals across the country.
I am not an advocate of nurses going on strike. Few nurses are, but employers leave nurses no choice because they do not take them seriously. Striking is one tool to show we are serious and to use our voice to get what we need to work safely.
I congratulate the over 7,000 New York nurses who stood together for what they felt was important to them personally and professionally but also for the people in New York City and surrounding areas. It took courage, and it took guts which are components nurses have.
I pray the employers of all the hospitals in New York will up hold their end of the agreement. Doing so will take work. To have safe staffing, you need to have nurses. There are HUNDREDS of open nursing positions in New York City. We all need to work together to recruit nurses in all settings across the county.
If you are a nurse working in a stressful, toxic environment and want to talk to an expert leader on how to address these issues, please email me at [email protected], and I will connect you to one of our virtual nurse leaders.
References: Here is a link to bring you up to date on the New York Nurses Strike that took place from 1.9-12.23.
I look forward to your insights and comments.
I started by professional nursing career in 1975 at the Montefiore Medical Center. I remained there for 17 years before departing to further my career and education. Still having many nurse friends across the Montefiore network and being a former health care administrator, I viewed this strike with a heavy heart. That nurses were pushed so hard to compromise their professional integrity is sad indeed BUT in the words of Howard Beal from the movie “Network” ” Nurses were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!”
Staffing shortages before and exacerbated by COVID made the job untenable. Nurses were devalued and made to feel inadequate and unworthy of needed support. Nurses were blamed for inadequate care and poor patient safety. I found it interesting that the media keep harping on money; Money was the least of all issues. Staffing was and remains paramount.
Nurses will continue to retire creating vacancies on top of current vacancies. I only hope hospitals can get a handle on a problem that has gotten so far out of control nationwide.
Nurses are the workhorses of our healthcare system, they deserve much more than an annual nurses recognition day. It is sad that nurses had to bring attention to a grave problem by going on strike but when one’s license and livelihood are at stake, healthcare organizations need to wake and accept responsibility for their role in creating bad outcomes.