Mount Sinai, Montefiore nurses return to work after reaching tentative contract agreements

Updated Jan. 12, 9:20 a.m.

Mount Sinai Medical Center and Montefiore nurses returned to the bedside at 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning after their union reached a tentative agreement with the hospitals, according to statements from each party. 

Roughly 7,125 nurses had been striking since Monday morning over new contracts and concerns of "chronic understaffing."  

"Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care," New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) President Nancy Hagans said in a statement. "Today, we can return to work with our heads held high, knowing that our victory means safer care for our patients and more sustainable jobs for our profession.”

At Mount Sinai, Hagans said the tentative agreement includes "safe staffing ratios" across all inpatient units "with firm enforcement."

The Montefiore agreement sees safe staffing ratios for the emergency department as well as "new staffing language and financial penalties for failing to comply with safe staffing levels in all units," Hagans said.

According to contract highlights being shared by union nurses on social media, that enforcement includes a "two-step, two-month process for resolution of disputes, clear metrics to prove violations, financial penalties equal the hourly base rate of the nurses needed to meet the ratio." The materials also outline a three-year contract agreement with an average compounded 19% plus experience difference wage increase.

NYSNA said it will be disclosing other contract highlights and a member vote timeline at a briefing later on Thursday. 

Montefiore said in a statement that all surgeries and outpatient appointments scheduled for Thursday or later will proceed as scheduled. The hospital said its negotiators bargained "around the clock" with the union to reach a mutual agreement.

"From the outset, we came to the table committed to bargaining in good faith and addressing the issues that were priorities for our nursing staff," the hospital wrote in an online statement. "Our tireless focus remained on ensuring Montefiore nurses have the best possible working environment, with significant wage and benefit enhancements, and we worked hard to secure this outcome with NYSNA."

Mount Sinai's agreement statement said the tentative terms are "similar" to those already agreed upon by the union and eight other hospitals across the city that were able to reach a deal before Monday's strike deadline.

"[The deal] is fair and responsible, and it puts patients first," Mount Sinai wrote online. "We’re grateful to Governor Hochul, her staff and elected officials for their leadership and support throughout the negotiation process."

NYSNA's announcement also noted that a tentative deal has been reached at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, averting another impending strike.

Updated Jan. 9, 9:45 a.m.

The deadline has expired for two New York City hospitals' contract negotiations with the New York State Nursing Association, kicking off an open-ended strike of roughly 7,125 nurses.

Mount Sinai Medical Center (roughly 3,625 nurses) and Montefiore Medical Center (roughly 3,500 nurses) said in statements that the union walked away from negotiations late Sunday night.

Nurses across the two organizations' locations began their strike at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. Both providers said in online notices that their hospitals will remain open, but that patients would be receiving messages to reschedule appointments and elective procedures. 

About 16,000 nurses across several private New York City hospitals had initially signed on to begin demonstrations Monday morning but came to terms before Monday. The most recent of these were Mount Sinai Morningside, Mount Sinai West, BronxCare and the Brooklyn Hospital Center.

The workers have cited short staffing and retention issues they say put patients at risk and increase the strain on nurses.

“Since NYSNA NYC nurses started negotiating our contracts four months ago, we have said our number one issue is the crisis of chronic understaffing that harms patient care," Nancy Hagans, the union's president, said in a Sunday press release. "Safe staffing is about having enough nurses to deliver safe, quality care to every patient. It is the issue that our employers have ignored, made excuses about, and fought against us on.”

The union has also previously alleged that some hospitals have “engaged in unfair and unlawful behavior, trying to stop RNs from speaking to the media, threatening RNs who have spoken out, spying on and questioning RNs about their union, interfering with union rights, directing RNs to remove union stickers and discriminating and retaliating against union members.”

Local and state government have said they will work with the hospitals and the union to ensure continued care and work toward a voluntary agreement. 

"New York City Emergency Management is preparing to activate our situation room to monitor hospital operations citywide if a strike occurs and will be joined by representatives from the New York City Department of Health, NYC Health + Hospitals, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and additional public and private agencies," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a Sunday statement. "The Fire Department of New York City has contingency plans in place to reroute ambulances and NYC Health + Hospitals has emergency strategies to handle a surge in patients." 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul called on Sunday for binding arbitration "so that all parties can swiftly reach a resolution" and stressed that the state's Department of Health "will continue to enforce staffing requirements under the law at these hospitals to maintain the delivery of essential health care services to the community and protect patient health and safety." 

Mount Sinai Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center said in statements that the union's leadership did not heed the governor's call when they walked away from last-minute negotiations. They also said that they have presented nurses with the same three-year, 19.1% compounded wage increase already agreed upon by negotiators at the other hospitals.

Though no bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday, NYSNA told press they are still willing to returning to the bargaining table.

Updated Jan. 5, 10:15 a.m.

Maimonides Health and Richmond University Medical Center reached tentative agreements with negotiators on three-year contracts, according to Thursday morning statements from the hospital and the New York State Nurses Association. This leaves more than 10,000 nurses across five hospitals still poised to strike on Monday.

Jan. 4, 2:00 p.m.

About 12,000 nurses across seven New York City hospitals are set to begin an open-ended strike if new contract agreements aren’t reached by Monday, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) warned this week.

The nurses have been without a contract since the New Year and delivered their 10-day notice to the hospitals Dec. 30. The strike was authorized by “an approximately 99% margin,” according to the union.

Demonstrations would impact BronxCare Health System, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, Montefiore Bronx, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West and Richmond University Medical Center.

The initial strike vote had included another 4,000 nurses up until late New Year’s Eve when NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital reached a tentative contract agreement with its union workers to avert a strike.

The union’s bargaining committee will recommend those 4,000 nurses accept the contract in an upcoming vote, per a Jan. 1 update.

“NewYork-Presbyterian nurses’ hard work and commitment to patients helped deliver a tentative agreement that will help recruit and retain more nurses for safe patient care and improve conditions for patients,” NYSNA said in a release. “NYSNA urges other hospitals to follow NewYork-Presbyterian's lead in negotiating in good faith for fair contracts that respect nurses and patients.”

Bargaining will continue through the week for the seven remaining hospitals, NYSNA said. Strike authorization votes were still ongoing for an additional 1,200 nurses at four other healthcare facilities as of Dec. 31.

Similar to labor disputes in 2022, the workers have cited short staffing and retention issues they say put patients at risk and increase the strain on nurses.

“Our patients deserve the best possible care regardless of their income or race. But nurses can only do so much when we are taking care of 10 or more patients at once,” Flandersia Jones, a registered nurse at BronxCare, said in the Dec. 31 statement from the union. “It’s not fair to our patients. And we won’t tolerate unsafe staffing anymore.”

NYSNA’s press releases have highlighted multimillion-dollar executive compensations and industry surveys suggesting that many nurses plan to leave the profession in the coming years.

The union has also alleged that some of the hospitals have “engaged in unfair and unlawful behavior, trying to stop RNs from speaking to the media, threatening RNs who have spoken out, spying on and questioning RNs about their union, interfering with union rights, directing RNs to remove union stickers and discriminating and retaliating against union members.”