New York City

Nurses’ union says strike authorized if negotiations fail

June 3, 2015 Associated Press
President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, left, and Executive Director Jill Furillo, right, of the New York State Nurses Association, address a news conference on Wednesday. The union representing more than 18,000 registered nurses at 14 of New York City's private hospitals says members have voted to authorize a strike if contract negotiations aren't carried out in good faith. AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Leaders of the union representing 18,000 nurses at 14 private hospitals in New York City said Wednesday the nurses could go on strike if negotiations with management fail.

New York State Nurses Association members said they are fighting for higher staffing levels to protect patients.

The New York City Hospital Alliance denies that the hospitals are understaffed. A spokesman for the alliance says each of the hospitals has put together contingency plans in the event of a work stoppage.

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Union President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez said nurses are “the lifeline that patients grab when there is no hope.”

Four days of negotiations started Wednesday. The nurses have been without a contract since around the beginning of the year.

“We are doing the best that we can, but we need to see an improvement in the patient ratios,” said Nancy Hagans, a registered nurse who has spent more than 20 years working at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.

The New York City Hospital Alliance said the union should return to the bargaining table.

“These hospitals are nationally recognized for their safety records and the quality of care they provide,” the alliance said. It includes Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai St. Lukes, Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, all in Manhattan. About 9,000 members of the nurses association work in those hospitals, the union said.

The union said the other hospitals affected include New York Methodist Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center, the Brooklyn Hospital Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn; Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center; Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens; and Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital.

Nurses at 10 hospitals have approved strike votes, the union said. Workers at Flushing, Interfaith and Kingsbrook Jewish didn’t take strike votes, while voting at Richmond wasn’t complete.

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