NEW YORK -- Thousands of nurses returned to work at Mount Sinai Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center on Thursday and many said they felt vindicated with a tentative contract after a three-day strike.
Night shift nurses heading back into Mount Sinai were greeted with applause from their coworkers, CBS2's Ali Bauman reported.
"You're seeing everybody go back to reality, seeing the hospital come back to life. So this feels good," said Darla Joiner.
"We climbed that mountain and we planted our flag. Here we are," said Keisha Carrington.
Thousands of nurses spent the last three days picketing outside Mount Sinai Hospital in East Harlem and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Nurse Matt Allen was at the bargaining table with Mount Sinai when they finally struck a deal just before dawn Thursday.
"We were all sleep deprived and exhausted, but there was a really big level of excitement when we got that paperwork and we signed it," said Allen.
While some details are still being flushed out, nurses at both hospitals will get a 19.2 percent pay raise over three years and new patient-to-nurse ratios with unprecedented, strict enforcement.
Hospitals will be fined if nurses have to take on more patients than agreed.
"This is the first time they've ever agreed to staffing ratios. So this agreement is historic," said Gov. Kathy Hochul.
"With the staffing enforcement language we have, they have to start filling those vacancies. Otherwise they're gonna be in violation," said Allen.
That means nurses like Joiner will care for five patients instead of the eight she typically has.
"I can actually take more time out and be present for my patients and their family members," said Joiner.
Montefiore also agreed to add 170 new nursing positions and preserve its program for high-risk new mothers, which was at risk of ending.
It's been a rough week. The hospitals had to transfer some patients out and bring in traveling nursing during the strike.
Kiana Lundy was a patient through it all.
"The nurses are definitely happier," said Lundy.
"Our teams have worked tirelessly over the last three days to keep our patients safe," said Dr. David Reich, president of Mount Sinai Hospital. "But it's over now and now it's time to welcome everyone."
The work isn't over yet. Next week, the nurses must vote to approve these contracts.
The union's focus then turns to negotiations for 9,000 more nurses at 11 public hospitals in the city before their contracts expire in the spring.
Deal was struck once staffing, ratio language was hammered out
Thousands of nurses are back with their patients at hospitals in New York City, including two major ones: Mount Sinai and Montefiore Medical Center.
This comes after three days of strikes demanding a new contract that includes fair wages and staffing.
Sidewalks outside Mount Sinai are clear. Nurses are back at work. It's a stark contrast from the past three days of strikes for New York State Nurses Association nurses.
"What did you come back to today?" CBS2's Kristie Keleshian asked.
"Happiness that we're actually there to see our patients again," said nurse Cammy Leung.
Mount Sinai nurses were greeted by Gov. Kathy Hochul when returning to work Thursday morning, just hours after it was announced that NYSNA came to tentative agreements with Montefiore Bronx and Mount Sinai.
NYSNA President Nancy Hagans spoke on what was last negotiated.
"What we needed were ratios and staffing reinforcement language. The reinforcement language was very important to our members because your staffing can look great in papers, but if you don't have reinforcement, it won't go anywhere," Hagans said.
At Montefiore Bronx, these ratios will range from one nurse caring for two to eight patients depending on the department. Its tentative deal also includes.
The Montefiore deal includes:
- Over 170 new nursing positions
- Fully funded health care for eligible nurses and lifetime health coverage for eligible retired nurses
- Increased staffing for "float pool nurses" in emergency departments
Mount Sinai hasn't put out the details of its tentative deal yet, but its previous offer includes
- Increased payments by Mount Sinai to protect NYSNA pension
- Increased financial contributions towards medical benefits at no cost to nurses
And for both Montefiore and Mount Sinai, there a 19% increase over three years.
"It is fair and responsible, and it demonstrates how we value our Mount Sinai nurses and it puts our patients first," Mount Sinai Chief Nursing Officer Fran Cartwright.
"The atmosphere was different, the nurses were more attentive," said Ebony McKoy. "I give them a thumbs up today."
McKoy came in Thursday with her son, who has autism. As for what she expects emergency rooms to look like in the near future?
"We'll see. We'll see. We definitely will see," McKoy said.
The next step now is to finalize these tentative agreements with a ratification vote. There's still no date set for that vote yet - NYSNA expects it to take place next week.
Nurses excited to get back to work; "I want to thank all of New York"
Thousands of caregivers who were on the picket line are returning to patient rooms.
The New York State Nurses Association reached tentative deals with both Mount Sinai in East Harlem and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. The union says the deal will finally put in place enough nurses to provide proper patient care.
After three full days on strike, more than 7,000 nurses between both hospitals are returning to work Thursday.
The union calls the announcement a big victory.
"I want to thank all of New York, all of the people who drove by and honked their horns in solidarity, put posters in front of their stores in solidarity," said Mount Sinai nurse Marcia Griffiths.
It was all smiles from the nurses walking back into work early Thursday morning at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and at Mount Sinai in East Harlem after both hospitals reached tentative agreements overnight with the New York State Nurses Association.
"From the beginning, we've always said out patient is our top priority, and we showed that," said NYSNA President Nancy Hagan.
Gov. Kathy Hochul was outside Mount Sinai, greeting nurses coming back to wage increases, better benefits and a promise to hire more staff.
"They'll receive a well-deserved 19% pay increase, also better benefits, higher wages for those with higher education," Hochul said.
Montefiore Medical Center says they came to the agreement with "great respect for our nurses and with proposals that reflect their priorities in terms of wages... benefits... safety and staffing."
The agreement includes a 19% wage increase, more than 170 new nursing positions, and a plan to address recruitment and retention.
Mount Sinai issued a similar statement that read, in part, "We are pleased that the Mount Sinai Hospital reached a tentative agreement with NYSNA, and the strike is over. Our proposed agreement is similar to those between NYSNA and eight other New York City hospitals. It is fair and reasonable, and it puts patients first."
The tentative agreements with the union come after thousands of nurses of both hospitals spent the week on strike calling for more staffing to keep their patients safe. Now, many say they're excited to be back doing what they love with the treatment they deserve.
"We took this risk. We took the stand because something has changed. And we demanded change, and change is going to happen," said nurse Ted Levine.
Nurses were eager to get back to their patients, and now both hospitals say surgeries and appointments scheduled from here on out will proceed as normal.
Both deals will not be finalized until the union holds and official vote.
AG James: Nurses "get what they deserve"
"Our nurses do so much to keep us safe every day. Today, they get what they deserve," New York State Attorney General Letitia James tweeted.
Gov. Hochul greets nurses
Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke outside Mount Sinai in East Harlem, thanking hospital and union officials, as well as the nurses themselves.
"I'm grateful. The city can take a sigh of relief, as well as give an applause and champion the men and women who are walking in the doors behind us this morning," she said.
Details of the deals
Thousands of striking nurses can return to their jobs Thursday at two New York City hospitals.
A deal has been reached that includes wage increases and more staffing.
Throughout the week, the nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital in East Harlem and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx took to the picket lines, as hundreds of traveling nurses were brought in to fill positions. The union's top priority was addressing staffing shortage.
Both hospitals reached a tentative agreement overnight with the New York State Nurses Association.
Montefiore said it came to the agreement with "great respect for our nurses and with proposals that reflect their priorities in terms of wages, benefits, safety and staffing."
The agreement includes a 19% wage increase, more than 170 new nursing positions, and a plan to address recruitment and retainment.
Mount Sinai released a similar statement, reading in part, "We are pleased that the Mount Sinai Hospital reached a tentative agreement with NYS-NA and the strike is over. Our proposed agreement is similar to those between NYS-NA and eight other New York City hospitals. It is fair and responsible, and it puts patients first."
Mount Sinai did not release specifics on wage increases or how many new positions it plans to fill. Right now there are 500 nursing vacancies at the hospital, according to the union.
Nurses union celebrates "historic victory"
The New York State Nurses Association released the following statement after the agreement was reached:
"This is a historic victory for New York City nurses and for nurses across the country. NYSNA nurses have done the impossible, saving lives night and day, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we've again shown that nothing is impossible for nurse heroes. Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care. Today, we can return to work with our heads held high, knowing that our victory means safer care for our patients and more sustainable jobs for our profession."
Montefiore releases statement
Montefiore President and CEO Philip O. Ozuah released the following statement after the agreement was reached:
"We came to these bargaining sessions with great respect for our nurses and with proposals that reflect their priorities in terms of wages, benefits, safety, and staffing. We are pleased to offer a 19% wage increase, benefits that match or exceed those of our peer institutions, more than 170 new nursing positions and a generous plan to address recruitment and retention."
Mount Sinai releases statement
Mount Sinai Health System released the following statement after the agreement was reached:
"We are pleased that The Mount Sinai Hospital reached a tentative agreement with NYSNA, and the strike is over. Our proposed agreement is similar to those between NYSNA and eight other New York City hospitals. It is fair and responsible, and it puts patients first. We're grateful to Governor Hochul, her staff and elected officials for their leadership and support throughout the negotiation process. To our incredible Mount Sinai team: thank you for your unwavering dedication to world-class patient care."
Minus thousands of nurses, some say Mount Sinai and Montefiore are unrecognizable
"A ghost town" is how some are describing some hospitals.
That's because 7,000 nurses were out on strike for a third day Wednesday, outside Mount Sinai's main campus and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
The New York State Nurses Association was at the bargaining table with both hospitals all day, but as of this report there is still no deal for either.
Since the beginning, the union's top priority has been hiring more nurses. It argues both hospitals are dangerously understaffed. So, with all the nurses now on strike, patients say the hospitals are unrecognizable.
Thousands of nurses from Mount Sinai in East Harlem and Montefiore in the Bronx spent Wednesday on the picket lines, instead of at patients' bedsides.
"We're really hoping to settle tonight. We think we're close," said Montefiore nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, who is on the NYSNA negotiating committee.
The hospitals are diverting some patients to other facilities, while also spending millions of dollars to bring in traveling nurses during the strike.
But patients' families say it's not enough.
"It's a ghost town up there," Jennifer Barriera said.
Every day, Barriera visits her sister-in-law, who is a cancer patient at Montefiore, and is now being treated by traveling nurses.
"They're nice, beautiful people. Problem is that they're not trained in cancer treatment. So now we have my sister-in-law, who just got a bone marrow transplant, who has to help the nurses administer her own medication," Barriera said.
Marilyn James has been visiting her son daily in the hospital for the past month.
When asked if there are enough nurses in the hospital currently, James said, "No, there isn't. It's nothing like having the Montefiore nursing department. They're just cohesive in situations like this."
Despite a promised 19% pay raise from both hospitals, the nurses maintain they will not return to work until the bosses hire more staff.
Mount Sinai has proposed staffing grids and Montefiore offered to add 126 nurses, but there are 500 nursing vacancies at Mount Sinai and 760 at Montefiore, according to the union.
"When you have to drive from the Bronx to Westchester County to be seen by a nurse that can take care of seven patients, versus the nurses here that have to take care of 15 or 20, it's not nice," St. John's nurse Devin McLaughlin said.
The union is also fighting to keep a nursing program at Montefiore for high-risk mothers. The Bronx has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
"We're kind of filling that gap that's between the health care system -- when they go to the doctors' appointments and when they're home," Montefiore home care nurse Tamara Garel said.
A hospital spokesman told CBS2 mothers currently enrolled will continue treatment, but the facility no longer has the grant dollars for new patients and "continue to actively seek new funding."
"It would take $800,000 to keep the program going and Montefiore simply has said that they're not willing to do that anymore," home care nurse Vanessa Weldon said.
Negotiations at both hospitals continue.
When asked if she thinks it's possible deals will be reached and the nurses will be back on the job on Thursday, Sheridan-Gonzalez said, "I hope so. If all goes well, yes. If not, we'll be out here again."
Mount Sinai also says it proposed staffing ratios similar to what the other eight hospitals that were able to reach agreements have.
Throughout all of this, both the hospitals and the union have been urging patients not to delay medical care if they are sick.
Mount Sinai Hospital transferring as many patients as possible to other facilities
Thousands of nurses are off the job for a third day in a row at tow New York City hospitals.
Over the last few days, hundreds have returned to work after several hospitals were able to come to agreements with the New York State Nurses Association.
Sources told CBS2 talks between Mount Sinai Hospital and the union were in progress Wednesday. In the meantime, the main campus is diverting complex emergency cases like strokes to other hospitals. Mount Sinai is transferring as many patients as possible to other facilities that are not on strike.
Union nurses at the main campus in East Harlem are showing no signs of backing down.
"We're burnt out and tired and that's why we're here," nurse Shannon Reynolds said. "You probably heard that they're asking travel nurses currently working inside, working 24-hour shifts, and some people are surprised about that, but they do that to staff nurses all the time."
Mount Sinai has offered a 19% pay raise over three years.
"It's really not about the money," said Tracey Hellman, a labor and delivery nurse.
Nurses say the sticking point is the hospital won't hire more staff.
Postpartum nurse Monica Tse said her patient load has doubled in nearly two decades.
"We would start off maybe three couplets. Now, I could come in, the last time I remember coming in here I had six couplets," Tse said.
Frances Cartwright, chief nursing officer and senior vice president at Mount Sinai Hospital, told CBS2 on Tuesday, "We've hired more than 2,600 nurses in the life of our contract over the past four years. We have a retention issue consistent with the rest of the country. Nationally, we're in a workforce crisis."
Nurses at other Mount Sinai locations did come to an agreement. The main campus hospital hopes this means both sides will come to an agreement soon.
Montefiore, nurses appear to be on the same page as they work toward deal
Union nurses at Montefiore Medical Center were joined by members of other unions on Wednesday. They told CBS2 they are eager to get the contract dispute settled, with better staffing for patient care.
Striking nurses at the Bronx hospital kept themselves energized with chanting on the picket line, but in quieter moments some admitted it gets them down not doing their jobs and caring for patients, as the walkout continued for a third day.
"Please, Montefiore, give us the contract that will protect our patients, that will recruit the nurses, and let us go back into the hospital where we want to be," nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez said.
"Help us to help our patients. Our community deserves better health," nurse Benny Mathew added.
Leaders at Montefiore would not appear on camera, but released a statement on Wednesday that said the walkout is an "unnecessary strike," adding that talks are only stalled "because of staffing concerns."
They said on the table since the beginning have been proposals for "enhanced staffing" and plans to "eliminate all hallway patient placements." They also plan to "add RN educators" and provide "tuition relief for participants of clinical assistant student nurse programs."
People on both sides of the battle say they are close to a deal, but the question is are they close enough to end this sooner rather than later?
Sources: Mount Sinai, Montefiore both back at the table
Sources with Mount Sinai's main campus tell CBS2 both parties are now back at the table to find a resolution after negotiations came to a standstill Tuesday.
CBS2's Hannah Kliger was outside Montefiore in the Bronx, where hundreds of nurses and supporters in red said they plan to picket for nearly 12 hours Wednesday.
The union says nurses cannot return to work until hospital administrators agree to fill hundreds of vacancies. This is the culmination of negotiations that began last September at 12 hospitals with contracts that were set to expire by the end 2022.
Nurses striking outside Mount Sinai in East Harlem and three Montefiore locations in the Bronx said they hope to find a solution to the staffing shortages that the union says are a massive problem.
"It impedes on the care that the nurse provides to the patient," registered nurse Henrietta Osei told Kliger. "We have patients actually in the hallway with no walls around them. That is unsafe."
Both hospitals have offered a 19% pay raise over three years. But for those on the picket lines, it's not just about the money.
"That's not why we're here. We're here for safe patient care, safe ratios. So that we can give the best care possible." registered nurse Jasmine Christakos said.
Those issues, along with hundreds of unfilled vacancies are why the nurses say they walked off the job for a third day.
"For decades, this has been the situation where nurses have not been set up to be successful, and unfortunately COVID really exposed that. All of a sudden you had all of these patients who were literally dying and not enough staff to take care of them," said neurology nurse Meghan McDonald.
Many say the gaps in staffing were exacerbated by the pandemic.
"We went through COVID, things were really bad, and we really, really fought for our patients, and we don't want to be out here, we just want a fair contract," PACU nurse Maggie Hoffman said.
Negotiations failed Tuesday at Mount Sinai's main campus, even though nurses at the West and Morningside locations voted to ratify a new contract with overwhelming support. A spokesperson for the hospital says that gives them hope both sides will come together in good faith.
Nurses there said they're optimistic too.
"The only way we are going to make progress and move forward is by talking and trying to move to a direction where we can find fairness across the board," said Cheryl Fried, a pediatric nephrology nurse.
The health care workers union 1199 SEIU sent a cease and desist letter to Montefiore to prevent the hospital from hiring 1199 nurses to fill in during the strike.
Strike enters day 3
Nurses at two New York City hospitals are back on the picket lines Wednesday morning.
While talks are stalled at Mount Sinai Hospital, negotiations are ongoing between Montefiore Medical Center and the nurses union.
Montefiore management says it's putting more on the table, including experience pay for nurses. It's also working to find a resolution to address what the union says are massive staffing shortages and overcrowding.
While no deal has been reached yet, negotiations are ongoing, which is promising.
Montefiore making some progress, but bargaining sessions not even scheduled at Mount Sinai
There is progress but no agreement at two major New York City hospitals, where thousands of nurses have walked off the job.
On Tuesday night, CBS2 spoke exclusively to a nurse at the bargaining table.
Montefiore Medical Center is currently in negotiations with the union, but talks have stalled at Mount Sinai Hospital in Harlem.
The union claims there are hundreds of vacancies at both hospitals, and nurses cannot return to work until that's resolved.
So it looks like this strike may be headed into its third day.
"The nurses here are outside because we need better for ourselves and our community," ICU nurse Michelle Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who is a member of the New York State Nurses Association executive committee, is leading the charge for the union at Montefiore.
CBS2 first met her in March 2020.
"As health care workers, we're scared," she said at the time.
Now almost three years later, she's at the table negotiating a new contract.
"There's nurses who have left nursing forever because of the trauma they got during 2020, and I think that's what we're trying to address here, and to correct things, to make it a place where people feel safe working again," Gonzalez said.
After four months of negotiations and two days of strikes at Montefiore, and Mount Sinai in East Harlem, both hospitals have offered a 19% pay raise over three years.
But the thousands of nurses on the picket lines maintain their top priority is for the hospitals to hire more staff.
"It's not really fair. You can't dedicate the time needed to each patient because there's not enough staff to take care of the patients," nurse Linda Tanelus said.
Mount Sinai administration blames their vacancies on a worker shortage.
"We've hired more than 2,600 nurses in the life of our contract over the past four years. We have a retention issue consistent with the rest of the country. Nationally, we're in a workforce crisis," said Frances Cartwright, chief nursing officer at Mount Sinai.
Nurses at both hospitals disagree and say there are plenty of people applying.
"I'm walking around the neighborhood hearing people, 'How do I get into Montefiore?' If there's a nursing shortage and nurses looking for jobs in this community, we should be hiring them," Gonzalez said.
Until a deal is reached, the hospitals are spending millions of dollars on traveling nurses, and are diverting some patients to other facilities.
"While we're out here, most of us, all of us, are thinking of our patients inside, and what kind of care they're receiving right now while we're out here," Montefiore nurse Sherly Guzman said.
On Tuesday, Mount Sinai West and Morningside voted to ratify their new contracts, but at Mount Sinai's main campus, there isn't even a bargaining session scheduled.
Nurses from other hospitals, patients join the picket line
Montefiore Medical Center and the nurses union remained at the bargaining table late Tuesday afternoon, but they still have not been able to come to an agreement.
The New York State Nurses Association says management did not agree to its latest proposals for dealing with the staffing crisis, and the nurses say they're not returning to work until that happens.
Red caps in the cold replaced scrubs in the emergency room at Montefiore, as the nurse strike persisted for a second day.
"We are here for our patients. We want to go back in there. It's really sad the very last minute Montefiore finally started negotiating," nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez said.
The hospital has offered nurses a 19% pay raise over three years, but the union maintains its top priority is for management to hire more nurses.
"It's not about the money anymore. It's about taking care of the patients properly, but they don't seem to care. They take bonuses for saving money on our backs and it has to stop," nurse Vanessa Marcano said.
Nurses from different hospitals joined the picket line Tuesday to support their sisters. That includes Amy Donders, who works in Westchester.
"We really hope this settles quickly. We don't feel good about being outside. As I've heard a lot of people saying, it's so true. If you see us outside, there's something wrong inside," Donders said.
Lillian Lopez isn't a nurse. She's a patient who joined the picket line to support the men and women she says saved her life.
"I ended up here in Montefiore, in emergency. If we're going to talk about how hectic emergency is, there's like 30 people on one side and one, two, three nurses taking care of all the patients there in emergency," Lopez said.
The hospital told CBS2 in a statement, in part, "Montefiore remains at the bargaining table, committed to an equitable agreement that reflects the priorities of our dedicated nurses."
In the meantime, contingency plans are in place to keep the ER open, with traveling nurses picking up shifts.
"The nurses here are outside because we need better for ourselves and our community and we will continue to fight until that happens," nurse Michelle Gonzalez said.
The hospitals and the union are making it clear that patients should not delay getting medical care despite the strike, since we are in the midst of a tripledemic.
Montefiore nurses want staffing ratios to be enforced
Montefiore and the nurses union went back into negotiations at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
It's day two of the strike outside, and nurses say they will keep fighting until their demands are met. They say it's about the patients -- most are on Medicaid and many are lower-income minorities.
"All we're asking is be more humane to the patients that you serve," Montefiore nurse Winsome Simpson told CBS2.
Simpson said she takes care of upwards of 35 patients a day and overcrowding is a huge issue.
"You come in there sick, you're sitting in the hallway, you don't have a bed," she said.
"I work in the pediatric intensive care unit, and we need safer staffing in order to take care of our patients properly," said nurse Mary Boyd.
Nurses say the sticking point continues to be enforcing safe staffing levels.
"What good are ratios if we don't have solid enforcement? We have to have enforcement. We can't have them violate our contract, no matter how pretty it looks," one organizer told the crowd.
This comes after four months of negotiations and the nurses union giving a 10-day warning of a strike.
As the deadline approached, other area hospitals struck agreements -- with the exception of Montefiore and Mount Sinai's main campus.
"Everyone, every individual that comes here, they need us. They need us to help them, this is why they're here," nurse Rachel Telfer said.
Hospitals offered a 19% pay raise over three years, but these nurses say it goes beyond the money. They want to see the hospitals recruit and retain staff.
"This is about the future of our profession. This is not about money. We can all make money. We can do overtime," said nurse Roy Permeul. "It's about our patients and patient safety."
"Montefiore, you've got to do better. We deserve better, the patients of the Bronx deserve patient quality care," nurse Collete Dobbins added
So far, no bargaining sessions have been scheduled at Mount Sinai. In the meantime, both hospitals stress people can continue to get care, despite the strike.
Montefiore back at bargaining table
Montefiore released a statement as negotiations resumed Tuesday morning:
"Montefiore remains at the bargaining table, committed to an equitable agreement that reflects the priorities of our dedicated nurses. Contingency plans remain in place to ensure our hospitals remain open, because Montefiore is, and always will be, here for The Bronx."
Mount Sinai nurses holding the line
Approximately 3,600 nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital are participating in the unprecedented strike.
They have been negotiating for a new contract since last September. During a last-ditch bargaining effort Monday, the hospital offered a 19% raise over three years, but the union says they still need to hire more people.
"We happen to have the lowest base pay of any New York City hospital. So it's not an attractive place for nurses to come and stay," nurse Marina Pushkash told CBS2. "We happen to have 500 vacancies, which is the most from anywhere else."
Officials with Mount Sinai blame the COVID pandemic, saying it made the already existing workforce shortage even worse.
"We need to come back together again at the table. We need to complete these negotiations, we need to come to a successful resolution," said Dr. Francis Cartwright, chief nursing officer for Mount Sinai. "We need our NYSNA executive team to agree to the financial package that eight other NYSNA organizations here have agreed to."
While the strike continues, Mount Sinai is using agency nurses and diverting ambulances to other hospitals.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Health sent surveyors to the hospital to make sure patients receive proper care.
Talks set to resume at Montefiore
Negotiations are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. for nurses at Montefiore in the Bronx.
Many told CBS2 they feel like they're drowning, taking care of as many as 20 patients a day. They say it's not the level of care the community deserves, where most patients are on Medicaid and many are low-income minorities.
The union says Montefiore has failed to fill 760 nursing positions vacated during the pandemic. They want the hospital fined every time it violates staffing ratio agreements.
"Enforcement, community issues, ED overcrowding, hallway patients, things like this. Trying to put together a package that we can all agree on," ER nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez told CBS2.
The president of Montefiore called the strike "a sad day for New York City."
The hospitals says despite the promises of a 19% pay raise and a commitment to create more than 170 nursing positions, the union still decided to walk away from the bedside of patients.
"I'm ready to be here until we have a contract"
Nurses say they will hold the line as long as it takes until there's a contract both the union and hospitals can agree on.
CBS2 learned Monday night Montefiore Medical Center is heading back to the table at 10 a.m., but talks stalled Mount Sinai Hospital, which means Tuesday may bring a second day on the picket line.
The sounds of pots and pans clanking were once a thank you to health care workers. Two years later, it's the sound of nurses on strike.
"This is a show of nurse power throughout the entire city," Mount Sinai nurse Sarah Dowd said.
More than 7,000 nurses from Montefiore in the Bronx and Mount Sinai in East Harlem walked off the job Monday without a contract.
"When we didn't know what the hell was going on with COVID, they were in there risking themselves, risking their family, and now you have to make them stand in the street for a contract in the cold?" Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.
Both hospitals have offered a 19% pay raise over three years, but the New York State Nurses Association maintains its priority is staffing.
"You have 500 vacancies. You gotta hire them. It's not like a promise you can make at the bargaining table. You just need to hire them," Mount Sinai nurse Matt Allen said.
The nurses say being so understaffed is unsustainable and unsafe.
"We have ER nurses with 21 patients. You can't even walk in the door," Montefiore nurse Cherise Navarro said.
"When you deal with a lot of patients, you're prone to making mistakes," Mount Sinai nurse Luz Caparas said.
Mount Sinai blames the vacancies on a workforce shortage, and claims it has hired 4,000 nurses over the last three years.
"We had submitted to them a very robust staffing enforcement proposal and we were waiting to get a counter on that and we did not receive it at the time they left negotiations," said Frances Cartwright, chief nursing officer at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Nurse Julia Quantz avoided a strike at her own hospital, New York-Presbyterian, but came to support her Mount Sinai sisters.
"We're all ready to hold them accountable for the way they give the money to CEOs, but not to the people who are keeping the patients safe," Quantz said.
"Every union member in the city should be supporting these nurses," transit worker John Simino said.
In the meantime, hospitals have brought in traveling nurses, are diverting ambulances, and are referring patients to other facilities.
"I'm ready to be here until we have a contract," Mount Sinai nurse Linsey Auge said.
The state has also sent surveyors to make sure the hospitals are operating safely during the strike.
It's important to note, both the hospitals and the unions want to make it clear that patients should not delay getting medical care during the strike, after all we are in the midst of a tripledemic.
Nurses at Mount Sinai showing no signs of giving in
Seven thousand nurses from two New York City hospitals are striking over contract negotiations.
The walkout began at 6 a.m. and the crowd outside Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side was still going strong late Monday afternoon.
The sticking point in the negotiations is staffing. The hospital is offering nurses a pay raise, but the union says what they really need is to hire more nurses.
The first day of the strike was in full swing outside and the union is showing no sign of giving in.
"We are not out here for wages. We are out here because we want patient safety," nurse Lorena Vivas said.
Leslie Worona, who has been working at the hospital for seven years, says understaffing since the pandemic has gotten so bad, it's unsafe.
"The ER is completely overwhelmed. Some of the nurses can have 17 patients. In the ER, you're not waiting to see a doctor for regular routine visit. You're there because there is an acute problem and you need medical attention and if the nurse can't get to you, it's a problem," Worona said.
The nurses have been negotiating for a new contract since September. During a last-ditch bargaining effort early Monday, the hospital offered a 19% raise over three years, but the union said they still need to hire more people.
"We happen to have some of the lowest base pay of any New York City hospital, so it's just not an attractive place for nurses to come and stay. We have 500 vacancies, which is the most from anywhere else," nurse Marina Pushkash said.
Without an agreement, up to 3,500 nurses have walked out of Mount Sinai's main campus. The hospital has already had to divert ambulances and refer patients to other hospitals.
"We need to come back together at the table, complete these negotiations. We need to come to a successful resolution. We need our NYSNA executive team to agree to the financial package that eight other NYSNA organizations have agreed to," said Frances Cartwright, chief nursing officer at Mount Sinai Hospital.
In an effort to avoid the strike, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday called for binding arbitration, which the union has not accepted.
"We are humans and we are burnt out. We are tired. The hospital doesn't seem to care. All they see is profits. Unfortunately, we are just numbers to them," nurse Danny Fuentes said.
The hospital is using traveling nurses and other staff to care for emergency patients, and both the hospital and union are urging patients not to delay care. Mount Sinai says it will continue caring for patients, whether that be at the main campus or at another facility.
At Montefiore, nurses say it's about more than money
The deadline for a bargaining agreement has come and gone, and now thousands of nurses have walked off the job, protesting for better pay and staffing.
In what can only be described as the epitome of irony, the nurses say they need better health care benefits - but the main issue is staffing. Thousands of nurses say they made the heartbreaking decision to leave their patients behind in order to fight for what they deserve.
"Safe staffing saves lives," they chanted.
Overworked, underpaid, and devalued - that's how career nurses describe life at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where most of the patients are on Medicaid and many are lower-income minorities.
"They wouldn't stretch us thin if we were NYP, or Cornell, or Mount Sinai. But since this is in the Bronx, and they deserve better," said pediatric nurse Collette Dobbins.
The union says Montefiore has failed to fill 760 nursing positions vacated during the pandemic.
"Our EDs are filled to the brim, and sometimes nurses are taking care of 20 patients at once. In the NICU, we're tripled all the time. It's unfair to the patients, and unfair to the nurses," said nurse Jithin John.
The looming strike set off a frantic rush to move patients and divert ambulances to other hospitals around the city. As 11th hour agreements were made at Mount Sinai West and Morningside, negotiators at Montefiore were unsuccessful.
The hospital offered a 19% pay raise, which translates to $51,000 more in cash compensation, and nearly $20,000 more in medical benefits over three years.
Nurses say the compensation and benefits are not the point.
"A lot of people think this is just about money, but that's a misconception according to you?" asked CBS2's Jessica Moore.
"No. It's not just that," said ER nurse Judy Sheridan. "The biggest issue for us is patient care... . Our ER is designed to hold 40-50 patients. It has 200 patients. We should be taking care of five patients. We can be taking care of 15 patients. We have patients on top of each other."
Nurses say the main sticking point is adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure safe staffing levels are honored.
"We're asking for every time we're short staffed they be fined. They're purchasing every hospital in the Bronx and Westchester so they have the money," said nurse Cherise Navarro.
At Montefiore, the following note was sent to staff, according to a source familiar with the matter:
Despite Montefiore's offer of a 19.1% compounded wage increase – the same offer agreed to at the wealthiest of our peer institutions - and a commitment to create over 170 new nursing positions, and despite a call from Governor Hochul for arbitration, NYSNA's leadership has decided to walk away from the bedsides of their patients. Therefore, at 6AM, NYSNA nurses will be on strike and off the job. We remain committed to seamless and compassionate care, recognizing that the union leadership's decision will spark fear and uncertainty across our community. This is a sad day for New York City.
Nurses say the hospital just agreed to reopen talks after initially refusing. Still, no agreement has been reached as yet.
Mount Sinai nurses say "we need more nurses... now"
Thousands of nurses from two New York City hospitals are on strike over contract negotiations.
They're calling for better wages and working conditions.
At Mount Sinai Hospital, the strike began at 6 a.m. and striking nurses have been out in front of the hospital, making sure their voices are heard.
Striking nurses are backed by their union and supporters including the attorney general, Manhattan borough president, and other city leaders.
The nurses have been packing the sidewalk in front of the hospital, chanting and waving signs.
The walkout involves as many as 3,600 nurses at Mount Sinai's main campus, DeAngelis was told.
The strike comes after the hospital and the nurses union failed to reach an agreement during a late-night bargaining session. The union warned it would happen, with a 10-day notice.
As the deadline approached, other hospitals struck agreements.
Nurses DeAngelis spoke with say it's more than just the money - it's about the patients, arguing staffing shortages are preventing proper care.
"We have over 500 vacancies in this hospital alone, so we need more nurses. We need them now," said Mount Sinai Hospital nurse Alyssa Wangenstein.
"I work in a [medical surgical] unit. Typically your ratio should be about one to five. My nurses have been working with one to seven, one to eight, one to nine, with alarming frequency, and our patient acuity has only gone up. Patients are getting sicker, and it's not safe," said nurse Lilia Espinoza.
"We're here as a pre-standard of care for patients. If Sinai thinks were here for anything else, they are very much mistaken. It's them that's the problem, not us," said nurse Ashley D'Armiento.
In an effort to avoid this strike, Gov. Kathy Hochul called for binding arbitration Sunday, which the union did not accept.
In a statement, a Mount Sinai spokesperson said the governor's proposal would have provided a path to avoid the strike, going on to say "they refused to accept the exact same 19.1 percent increased wage offer agreed to by eight other hospitals, including two other Mount Sinai Health System campuses."
The hospital is using other staff and travel nurses to take care of the patients, but the nurses don't plan to budge until their demands are met.
Montefiore nurses demand better treatment for their patients
Nurses at Montefiore in the Bronx say most of their patients are on Medicaid and speak English as their second language. Some who have been in the profession for decades say over the past few years it's felt more like a business.
"Economics. You see mostly minorities here, those who speak a second language. Of course our management is going to take advantage of that," said Collette Dobbins, a pediatric nurse with 36 years at the hospital.
Montefiore Health System said in a statement, "Despite Montefiore's offer of a 19.1% compounded wage increase – the same offer agreed to at the wealthiest of our peer institutions - and a commitment to create over 170 new nursing positions … NYSNA's leadership has decided to walk away from the bedsides of their patients … This is a sad day for New York City."
Emergency room nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez has been in the profession for 40 years and was at the bargaining table until 3 a.m. Monday, saying they are close to reaching a deal but have some outstanding issues.
"Montefiore has units with nurses ready to work there. Montefiore closed those units. Thirty two units where patients could be in beds," she said. "Instead, they put them on hallways, on stretchers with no toilet, no bathroom, no running water, no privacy. That's disgusting and our patients don't deserve to be treated that way."
She said it's also about recruitment and retention of nurses, many of whom are leaving the profession because they're stretched too thin.
More than 1,000 people join strike outside Mount Sinai
CBS2's John Dias was outside Mount Sinai Hospital's main campus on the Upper West Side, where more than 1,000 people joined the strike.
Approximately 3,500 nurses went on strike Monday, saying it's about safety and they left their patients to help them in the long run. They say the hospital does not have enough staff to run efficiently or effectively, and with about 500 open positions, they are overworked and under compensated.
Tentative agreements were reached Sunday at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside. Hospital negotiators say the same deal, which includes at 19.1% pay increase, was offered to nurses at the main campus. However, the New York State Nurses Association says this isn't just about pay, it's about staffing and having enough nurses to protect the patients.
"We have been begging for staff for a very long time," one person on the picket line said.
"People who work in the medicine units, I don't know how they've survived the last several years. I really have no idea," said another.
"When I worked in neuro, it was terrifying every night to know that I couldn't humanly do my job -- it wasn't humanly possible to do everything that I was supposed to do," another added. "And then you'd get another critical patient, and another critical patient."
Many said they wish a deal had been reached within the 10 days notice, but they plan to strike until their demands are met. Doctors and traveling nurses will care for the patients still inside.
Staffing also top of mind at Montefiore
CBS2's Kristie Keleshian had team coverage from Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.
Nurses there said they didn't want to leave their patients to strike. They said it's not about benefits or pay, it's about staffing and safety.
One nurse told Keleshian the hospital was supposed to hire 370 nurses in their contract from 2018, but that has not happened over the past four years.
"Came out here to support the cause. Give us better wage, give us better staffing," one person said.
Keleshian also spoke with a young cancer patient whose appointment had to be moved because of the strike.
Mount Siani calls strike "reckless"
Mount Sinai Health System released following statement after the strike began:
"NYSNA continues its reckless behavior, rejecting Governor Hochul's proposal for binding arbitration. The Governor's proposal would have provided a path to avoid this strike, which sadly is forcing nurses at The Mount Sinai Hospital to leave their patients' bedsides.
NYSNA leadership walked out of negotiations shortly after 1:00AM ET Monday morning. They refused to accept the exact same 19.1 percent increased wage offer agreed to by eight other hospitals, including two other Mount Sinai Health System campuses.
Our first priority is the safety of our patients. We're prepared to minimize disruption, and we encourage Mount Sinai nurses to continue providing the world-class care they're known for, in spite of NYSNA's strike."
Nurses Association's message
The New York State Nurses Association shared a tweet reminding New Yorkers: "Do not delay getting hospital care."
On the picket line
CBS2's John Dias is outside Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side as the strike begins.
Talks fall apart overnight
Mount Sinai Hospital released a statement overnight, saying the New York State Nurses Association walked away from the bargaining table shortly after 1 a.m.
"NYSNA leadership walked out of negotiations shortly after 1:00AM ET, refusing to accept the exact same 19.1 percent increased wage offer agreed to by eight other hospitals, including two other Mount Sinai Health System campuses, and disregarding the Governor's solution to avoid a strike," the statement read.
A few hours later, Montefiore put out a statement of its own, saying the strike will begin at 6 a.m.
"Despite Montefiore's offer of a 19.1% compounded wage increase - the same offer agreed to at the wealthiest of our peer institutions - and a commitment to create over 170 new nursing positions, and despite a call from Governor Hochul for arbitration, NYSNA's leadership has decided to walk away from the bedsides of their patients. Therefore, at 6AM, NYSNA nurses will be on strike and off the job. We remain committed to seamless and compassionate care, recognizing that the union leadership's decision will spark fear and uncertainty across our community. This is a sad day for New York City," the statement read.
Nurses union says staffing a major sticking point in contract negotiations
In just hours, nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center they say they will walk off the job if they can't reach an agreement on a new contract with their hospitals.
The threat of a work stoppage still looms large.
As early as 6 a.m. on Monday more than 3,600 nurses could walk out at Mount Sinai's main campus. They'd be joined by another 3,500 nurses from Montefiore in the Bronx.
The tense contract talks have left patients and their families feeling anxious.
"They don't need this type of distraction," said Sabrena Geborde, the wife of a patient at Mount Sinai.
Geborde came to Mount Sinai last week with her husband, Troy, who has end stage ALS.
"My husband almost went into cardiac arrest, and when we got here the nurses and doctors did a wonderful job on him," Geborde said.
The potential strike forced their normal hospital to divert patients, which is how they ended up at Mount Sinai.
"That's something that you never expect to have to deal with, and having to think of, deal with that, he's clinging. He's clinging to life as we speak," Geborde said, "and they're saving my husband's life in there and they're inside right now helping him."
In preparation for a strike, Mount Sinai moved babies from the neonatal ICU, and other patients.
At the main campus, nurses were offered a 19.1% pay increase. Hospital negotiators say that same offer was agreed to at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside.
However, the New York State Nurses Association says at issue is not just pay, it's also staffing.
In an effort to avoid a strike, Gov. Kathy Hochul called for binding arbitration, a process which involves a neutral party.
Mount Sinai Health and Montefiore welcomed the proposal, but the nurses union says the governor should respect their federally protected labor and collective bargaining rights, adding they will not give up their fight.
Union head says negotiations will go on as long as necessary Sunday into Monday
We are hours away from the deadline for contract negotiations between New York hospitals and their nurses union.
A deal was reached Sunday for nurses at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside.
But so far, the terms for more than 7,000 other nurses are still unsettled. Those nurses work at the main Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
If there's no deal by 6 a.m. on Monday, nurses say they will walk out.
The sides are certainly in the 11th hour of negotiations. Representatives negotiating inside the main Mount Sinai campus told CBS2 they have made the same offer that they made to West and Morningside, which includes a pay increase of more than 19%.
However, nurses say pay is not the only concern. They want staffing improvements. They say that they have been overworked and that there are not enough nursing positions that have been filled.
"It is an issue that our employers have ignored, made excuses about, and fought us against every time," said Nancy Hagans, president of the New York State Nurses Association. "Our bosses created the understaffing crisis by failing to hire and retain enough forces at our facilities."
Progress was made earlier Sunday with tentative contract agreements at Mount Sinai West and Morningside and those strike notices have been rescinded. It's not clear if there is any sort of deadline on the ongoing talks at the main Mount Sinai campus. A strike there would impact 3,600 nurses and another 3,500 could walk off the job at Montefiore in the Bronx.
Hagans said the talks will continue for as long as necessary. In the interim, ambulances have been diverted and patients have been moved out, and travel nurses have been brought in in advance of the potential walkout at 6 a.m. on Monday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul put out a statement on Sunday night calling for the contract talks to continue with a potential mediator to try to resolve the issues that still exist.
Mount Sinai "continuing to actively negotiate in good faith"
Mount Sinai West and Morningside reached a tentative agreement with the New York State Nursing Association on Sunday, but Mount Sinai Hospital -- the biggest in the system, representing 3,650 nurses -- has yet to come to a deal.
Mount Sinai Health System released the following statement:
Today, Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside reached a settlement, subject to ratification, with NYSNA union leadership and NYSNA has rescinded its strike notice at those sites. This agreement includes the identical 19.1 percent wage increases in agreements that have already been accepted by six other hospitals, and officially ratified by NewYork-Presbyterian and Maimonides.
This exact wage agreement has also been offered to NYSNA with respect to The Mount Sinai Hospital, and we are continuing to actively negotiate in good faith with NYSNA and hope they will accept our offer - which would provide an additional $51,000 in cash compensation for each nurse and $19,500 in medical payment benefits over three years. We hope they will similarly rescind their strike notice at The Mount Sinai Hospital.
Negotiations and emergency actions
Thousands of nurses with the New York State Nurses Association have been, safe staffing and better health care benefits since September. Their contracts expired Dec. 31, a strike was authorized and a 10-day notice went out to hospitals.
Mount Sinai is the biggest hospital in the system with 3,600 nurses. They've beenby moving patients, including babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, to other hospitals, postponing elective surgeries, diverting ambulances and bringing in travel nurses.