NYC's Biggest Nurse Strike in a Decade Continues as Ambulances Diverted, Elective Surgeries Postponed
While 12 New York City hospitals had been in contract negotiations for months, all but two hospitals were able to reach last-minute agreements with their staff.
New York City’s largest nurse strike in decades continues, as more than 7,000 nurses in Manhattan and the Bronx took to the streets to demand an end to understaffed hospitals in the face of rising cases of flu, RSV and COVID-19 following the holiday surge.
“There’s no enforceable patient ratio. One nurse could have 19 patients,” a nurse said, according to a video shared on Twitter by Healthcare Workers Newsletter. “It has been this way for years.”
Another nurse on strike said she often finds herself “apologizing for stuff that has nothing to do with me,” CNN reported.
More than 17,000 unionized nurses in 12 New York City hospitals had been in contract negotiations for months, with all but two hospitals reaching last-minute agreements with their staff.
Management at several locations of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side failed to reach agreements, and the 7,000 nurses employed by the two locations began picketing earlier this week.
In the union nurses' absence, the two hospital systems canceled elective surgeries and asked ambulances to divert patients to other hospitals, Vox reported.
In the meantime, non-union nurses — either traveling nurses or nurses working at out-patient clinics — have been brought into hospitals to take over patients during the strike. The non-union nurses are being paid $300 an hour, while staff nurse make around $52 an hour, according to the Gothamist.
“It’s very chaotic,” a woman who was discharged Tuesday morning told the New York Times. She said she waited an extra two-and-a-half hours for her medication on the morning of her release, and that care had been much smoother during the rest of her 6-day hospitalization.
Mayor Eric Adams is asking residents to dial 911 only when necessary.
The major New York City strike is just the latest of such movements around the country.
Earlier this month, workers at a Chicago hospital began a three-day strike as 61 union members were laid off amid contract negotiations, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Last year, 5,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike, as did 2,000 mental health providers in California and Hawaii, CNN reported. Nurses at the only hospital in Armstrong County, located outside of Pittsburgh, also walked off the job, CBS News reported.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, eight of 25 work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers in 2022 involved health care workers, Vox reported.
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