More than 7,000 nurses at two major New York City hospitals walked out Monday morning in a dispute over pay and staffing levels.
The walkout involves as many as 3,500 nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and around 3,600 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.
The nurses say they are working long hours in unsafe conditions without enough pay – a refrain echoed by several other nurses’ strikes across the country over the past year. The union representing the nurses said an offer of 19% pay hikes isn’t enough to solve staffing shortages.
“We are not out here for wages. We are out here because we want patient safety,” nurse Lorena Vivas said as she walked outside Mount Sinai, according to The New York Times.
Vivas, an intensive care nurse, said she was often caring for three or four patients when she should be limited to one or two patients at a time.
“This has been going on even before the pandemic, and the pandemic just blew the whole thing open,” she said.
The strike reportedly began at 6 a.m. on Monday after The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and management at Mount Sinai and Montefiore failed to reach an agreement on Sunday.
NYSNA, which represents the workers, stated it was forced to take drastic action due to chronic understaffing, which leaves nurses to care for too many patients at once.
Johnaira Dilone-Florian, a nurse practitioner, said that safety was being ignored while picketing outside of Montefiore.
“It’s unsafe because, in the emergency room, how can a nurse safely monitor 20 patients? Anything can go wrong. We are human. We’re not machines,” she said.
This is the latest in a series of strikes in the healthcare industry in recent years. Those union members who were on the front lines during the three-year battle with the Covid pandemic say the system is no longer able to function with the widespread shortages that arose during those years.
The nurses’ strike in New York City enters day two on Tuesday, with no contract agreement between NYSNA and the two hospitals yet.
Watch the video report below for more details: