4 Brooklyn hospitals still in negotiations with nurses’ union

Strike looms in Manhattan, the Bronx

January 6, 2023 Mary Frost
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Four private sector hospital systems in Brooklyn continue to negotiate with the nurses’ union as a potential Monday strike looms at hospitals across the city. 

Contracts expired on Dec. 31 for roughly 17,000 members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at a dozen New York City hospitals. And after the last three traumatic years of COVID-19, overcrowded hospitals and staff shortages, nurses without a new contract say they are ready to walk.

Nurses at five hospitals could go on the picket line as soon as 6 a.m. Monday morning if deals are not reached over the weekend, according to NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, who is a critical care nurse at Maimonides. 

These include Montefiore Medical Center; Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Health System Morningside and West; BronxCare Health Systems and Flushing Hospital Medical Center.

A medical worker transports a patient at Mount Sinai Hospital, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in New York. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Hagans said at a press conference on Friday that negotiators for Mount Sinai had canceled Friday’s bargaining session. Mount Sinai is transferring sick newborns to other city hospitals in anticipation of the strike, according to published reports.

In Brooklyn, hospitals still in negotiations as of Friday included The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center. 

Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday, Hagans said.

NewYork-Presbyterian (which includes NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Park Slope) also reached a tentative agreement, she said.

LaRay Brown, CEO of One Brooklyn Health System. Photo courtesy of One Brooklyn Health

Optimism at Interfaith, Kingsbrook; no word from The Brooklyn Hospital Center

“We essentially are beginning our negotiations,” said LaRay Brown, CEO of One Brooklyn Health, which is a consortium of three Central Brooklyn hospitals: Interfaith Medical Center, Brookdale Hospital Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center. Brown is also the CEO of Interfaith. 

Nurses have not issued a 10-day strike notice at Interfaith or Kingsbrook, Brown told the Brooklyn Eagle on Friday. (Nurses at Brookdale do not belong to NYSNA; they are affiliated with United Healthcare Workers 1199SEIU.) Interfaith’s contract ended Dec. 31, while Kingsbrook’s ends this month.

“I’m optimistic we’ll be able to develop a reasonable and mutually agreeable contract with our nurse partners at Interfaith and Kingsbrook. Our labor partnerships, particularly with our nurses, are very important to us,” Brown said.

The Brooklyn Hospital Center declined to comment on their ongoing negotiations.

Nurses say safe nurse-to-patient ratios are a ‘main goal’

Hagans said on Friday that the nurses’ main goal “is to improve patient care, to save staffing and fair wages and to recruit and retain nurses.”  Nurses have complained of overcrowded hospitals with patients lining the hallways, potentially dangerous staffing shortages and low pay.

NYSNA President Nancy Hagans held a press conference via Zoom on Friday. Photo: Zoom screengrab

“Nurses have been to hell and back, risking our lives to save our patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes without the PPE we needed to keep ourselves safe, and too often without enough staff for safe patient care,” Hagans said in December. 

Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, has also reached a tentative agreement, she said. 

According to NYSNA, the agreement reached with Maimonides, NY-Presbyterian and Richmond hospitals improves nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in several units and adds additional nursing positions; provides a three-year contract with annual salary increases of 7, 6 and 5%; improves dispute resolution; and preserves nurses’ current health benefits.

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