NEW YORK -- It's official. Thousands of city nurses say they will walk off the job in one week.
The move will impact at least seven private hospitals that have been in tense negotiations with the nurse's union for months. Their contract expired on Saturday night.
They wanted a fair contract, but by New Year's Day they say they didn't get it, so 12,000 nurses across the five boroughs are turning to what they believe is their last resort -- going on strike on Jan. 9.
"From the beginning of our contract negotiations, our employers also was aware that there's a deadline," said Michelle Jones, a nurse at Flushing Hospital Medical Center.
Nurses in the New York State Nurses Association have been in contract negotiations since September.
"They're even going so far as to say they intend to cut our health benefits. Many of us got sick and are currently dealing with health issues that we acquired during COVID," said Matt Allen, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital.
The following hospitals are the ones where nurses plan to strike:
- BronxCare Health System
- Flushing Hospital Medical Center
- Maimonides Medical Center
- Montefiore Bronx
- Mount Sinai Hospital
- Mount Sinai Morningside and West
- Richmond University Medical Center
Not on the list is New York-Presbyterian, which reached a tentative agreement late New Year's Eve for its 4,000 nurses. The nurses at the other hospitals say they have not received a pay increase since before the pandemic.
They are asking for a raise that keeps up with inflation and for the hospitals to hire more staff.
"In the emergency room, where patient care should be 4 to 1 or maybe 5 to 1, nurses have up to 10 and 15 at a time," Jones said. "You want to be there, hold their hand, and give them comfort. You need to move on to the next patient because you are short staffed."
Most of the hospitals told CBS2 they will keep negotiating, and hope to avert a strike before Jan. 9.
Mount Sinai said, in part, it's prepared for staffing changes and will do everything possible to minimize inconvenience to patients.
While none of the hospitals are in the city system, NYC Health + Hospitals told CBS2 it's planning for various contingencies.
The timing couldn't be worse, with doctors anticipating the flu season will hit its peak this month, and that there could be a post-holiday surge of COVID and RSV cases. However, the nurses say this fight for safe staffing, health benefits and adequate PPE is a battle that will make the patients' experience better, too.
CBS2 did reach out to the state Department of Health, but has not heard back.
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