More than 7,000 nurses entered the second day of their strike on Tuesday at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.
Montefiore representatives said the hospital had put new offers on the table in an effort to reach a contract agreement with the New York State Nurses Association that will bring nurses back to work. But negotiations between the nurses union and Mount Sinai have yet to resume after breaking down late Sunday night.
“Montefiore remains at the bargaining table, committed to an equitable agreement that reflects the priorities of our dedicated nurses,” the hospital said in a statement released Tuesday.
In the days leading up to the strike, Montefiore highlighted its compensation offers – including an 18% raise over three years, which is similar to what was offered by New York-Presbyterian and other hospitals that have recently reached contract deals. But nurses said salary increases were not all they wanted.
They have emphasized that they are most concerned about hospitals addressing staffing levels that they say are unsafe for patients. Nurses are pushing for Montefiore and Mount Sinai to commit to concrete nurse-to-patient ratios in their contracts, along with provisions that will allow those ratios to be enforced.
In an update about the negotiations on Tuesday, Montefiore said it is now offering to establish average staffing ratios in hospital emergency departments and to allow for an arbitrator to enforce staffing commitments if violations occur. The hospital said it is also offering to “make all reasonable efforts” to stop placing patient beds in hallways.
NYSNA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those offers from Montefiore and where negotiations with the hospital stand.
“We’re out here today because for four months we got no movement on the 39 proposals we put forward,” Judy Gonzalez, the past NYSNA president and an emergency room nurse at Montefiore, said at a press conference outside of the hospital’s Moses campus Tuesday morning. “Nearly every single one of them about providing better care for patients in the Bronx, being able to recruit nurses, being able to retain nurses, placing patients in safe environments – not crowded like sardines in an emergency department, not in hallway beds upstairs on stretchers without bathrooms and toilets.”
Gonzalez added, “I think Montefiore can hear us now.”
At times during the press conference, nurses chanted “ratios” and “we can’t take it anymore.”
Neither NYSNA nor Mount Sinai commented on their efforts to resume talks.
Meanwhile, nurses at three other hospitals across the city voted to ratify new contracts on Monday, NYSNA said. Those votes involved Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens, Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island and BronxCare Health System.
Negotiations at some Brooklyn hospitals remain ongoing, meaning additional medical centers could still strike if deals are not ultimately reached.