Famed Manhattan hospital Mount Sinai is moving newborns in their intensive care unit to other hospitals ahead of a planned New York nursing union strike.
Around 10,000 nurses at five private New York City hospitals are set to strike Monday after not yet reaching agreements on contracts and working conditions, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) said Friday.
“We have NICU infants being transferred to area hospitals today because of the strike notice,” a Mount Sinai Health System spokesperson told CNN. “We are seeking a resolution. The impact is great.”
But the union says management from the main Mount Sinai hospital campus walked away from the negotiating table just after midnight Friday — and also canceled bargaining sessions scheduled for the day.
“Our main goal in these negotiations is to improve patient care, to save staffing and fair wages, to recruit and retain nurses,” NYSNA President Nancy Hagans said at a briefing with reporters Friday. The union said it doesn’t know if Mount Sinai management plans to negotiate over the weekend.
The five New York City hospitals set for the nursing strike Monday are Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, Montefiore, BronxCare and Flushing Hospital Medical Center. Hagans said if the strike goes ahead, its timeline will be open-ended.
NYSNA has announced tentative agreements with three other New York City hospitals after giving the hospitals a 10-day warning of an impending strike.
‘Nurses are frustrated’
Mount Sinai’s spokesperson said in a statement to reporters that it is “dismayed by NYSNA’s reckless actions, adding that “the union is jeopardizing patients’ care, and it’s forcing valued Mount Sinai nurses to choose between their dedication to patient care and their own livelihoods.”
Hagans, however, had strong words for Sinai at Friday’s reporter briefing.
“Nurses are frustrated. We are holding the line for better staffing and salaries,” Hagans said. “The bosses there have repeatedly broken their promises on staffing. Our safe staffing standards are routinely violated and management gaslight the nurses when we try to enforce our current contract.”
“There are still hundreds of nursing vacancies the administration needs to fill. Shame! And shame on Sinai for walking out on the bargaining last night,” she said.
The Mount Sinai spokesperson did not comment on Hagan’s statement about management walking away from talks.
But the hospital said the deal put forth at Thursday evening’s bargaining session was the same one that NYSNA has agreed to with union nurses at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Tentative agreements have also been reached with union nurses at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island.
Mount Sinai also said it has offered a 19.1% compounded pay raise over three years, which is the same offer other hospital systems in the city have made.
“Still, NYSNA refuses to back off its plan to strike on Monday, even though it has called off planned strikes at other New York City hospitals,” the Mount Sinai spokesperson said. “It’s not reasonable for NYSNA to ask for a significant wage increase above and beyond these other sites.”
Hagans said the tentative agreements increase salaries and conditions for nurses, which will help recruit and retain enough staff to deal with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and other patient care needs.
The union president added that “we are hoping” to come to a deal for the remaining hospitals ahead of Monday to avoid strike action, which would begin 6 am ET Monday if tentative deals are not reached by 11:59 pm Sunday.