NURSES STRIKE: NYSNA, Mount Sinai contract agreements break down as picket rages on


Striking nurses and their supporters made themselves heard loud and clear on the Upper West Side Jan. 9, airing their grievances outside of Mount Sinai hospital in dramatic fashion at a rowdy picket line.

Well over 1,000 nurses lined the streets outside Mount Sinai Hospital on Monday as the healthcare workers say they continue to demand a safe nurse to patient ratio. NYSNA President Nancy Hagans rallied against the medical center stating that top brass are refusing to budge on workforce numbers.

While Hagans underscores that talks are still underway at the Bronx’s Montefiore Hospital, she also reported that negotiations with Mount Sinai Hospital have completely ceased after collapsing at around 1 a.m. on Jan. 9.

“They have refused the ratio, they have refused the enforcement—that’s why these nurses are here. The other hospitals have given the ratio and the staffing enforcement. So, we are asking Mount Sinai to do the same: provide the safe ratios for patient care here and also provide safe enforcement for staffing,” Hagans said. “So far Mount Sinai has not called in to continue bargaining.”

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

According to a Mount Sinai representative, it was NYSNA who walked away from the table in the early morning hours, with the medical center calling the strike reckless behavior for rejecting Governor Hochul’s proposal for binding arbitration. 

“The Governor’s proposal would have provided a path to avoid this strike, which sadly is forcing nurses at The Mount Sinai Hospital to leave their patients’ bedsides. NYSNA leadership walked out of negotiations shortly after 1:00AM ET Monday morning. They refused to accept the exact same 19.1 percent increased wage offer agreed to by eight other hospitals, including two other Mount Sinai Health System campuses,” part of Mount Sinai Hospital’s statement read.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

While nurses are also asking for a pay increase, instituting “safe staffing” levels at the hospitals seems to be the union’s greatest demand. The sea of predominantly female healthcare workers were bolstered by elected officials such as Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Attorney General Letitia James, and more.

“I’m here today because the nurses have stood with the city and in the state and nation during a time when we needed them most. They sacrificed not only their own personal safety, but that of their loved ones. They were there for us in the darkest of hours and that’s why we—I am there for them,” Attorney General James said. “This strike is not about money; it is about safety.”

Photo by Dean Moses

Not everyone supported the effort, however. One woman complained to amNewYork Metro about the strike, stating that her wheelchair bound father couldn’t access the hospital for a procedure; asserting that the nurses were blocking the entrance way. 

“He’s due for a CAT Scan of his head. How am I supposed to get him in here with all these people?” The infuriated woman asked. “Do you see space in any entrance?”

Still, the nurses appeared to garner far more support than they did ire, with passing motorists honking in approval while others flooded to social media to show encouragement. The husband of one patient traveled to the picket line to thank the nurses for caring for his wife.

Photo by Dean Moses

“You all do a great job here. I came here to thank you all, you all saved my wife’s life!” Jose Gonzalez said.

While diplomacy has—at least for the moment—broken down, nurses say they will stay outside for as long as it takes. The picket line chanted “No more pizza,” a reference to the workers stating that they will no longer accept free food as thanks for caring for an overabundance of patients, putting themselves and the public at risk. Nurses used Mount Sinai’s own tagline against them, telling boses to “find a way” and come to terms.

 

One sign read, “Let them eat pizza.” Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses