Approximately 30,000 NYSNA nurses have union contracts expiring on December 31, 2022, or in early 2023.
This is the first time in New York State that so many private and public sector nurses will be bargaining at the same time. It is also the first time that nurses at more than two dozen facilities will be bargaining contracts since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In New York City, 12 hospitals, including some of the biggest private hospitals such as Montefiore, Mt. Sinai, and NY-Presbyterian, have contracts that expire on December 31.
Today, hundreds of NYSNA nurses from throughout New York State convened at an all-day bargaining strategy conference in Times Square. They were joined by labor, community, and political allies to launch a public campaign, “We Love NY Nurses.” The campaign features a five-point platform to improve patient care, strengthen the nursing workforce, and uplift the communities we serve.
The public campaign will feature a website, www.welovenynurses.org, and major advertising campaign, launching in early September. NYSNA members and message will reach millions of New Yorkers through more than 450 outdoor ads across New York, with more than 200 in Manhattan alone, including on billboards, subways and buses, in healthcare facilities, and more.
NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, CCRN, BSN, said: “As nurses and healthcare professionals, our priority is to protect and advocate for the best care for all of our patients. The “We Love NY Nurses” platform will improve patient care, strengthen the nursing workforce, and uplift the communities we serve. Approximately 30,000 nurses are ready to fight for fair contracts that will strengthen healthcare for all New Yorkers.”
Several NYSNA member leaders presented details on the five-point platform, which consists of:
1) Improving patient care through safe staffing;
2) Fair wages to recruit and retain nurses;
3) Protecting healthcare and retirement;
4) Listen to the nurses to protect public health; and
5) Uplifting communities with good jobs and responding to community health needs.
NYSNA Western Regional Director, Steve Bailey, RN, said: “It’s time to listen to the nurses when we demand fair contracts that uplift the health, safety and well-being of healthcare workers, our patients and communities. We cannot allow the hard lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic go to waste by allowing hospital administrators to cut corners and return to short-term planning. We must have clear safe staffing and health and safety standards to protect us and our patients.”
NYSNA Director-at-Large, Matt Allen, BSN, RN, said: “New York’s nurses were superheroes of the pandemic, but we are not superhuman. To continue caring for patients, we need to take care of our own health. Nurses deserve good health benefits and to retire with dignity and health after putting our lives and bodies on the line. New York City’s big hospitals systems have bounced back from the pandemic with big profits, and now they need to invest in the frontline nurses who helped them earn those profits and are essential to providing quality patient care.”
NYSNA nurses are making improving patient care and meeting community needs central in their campaign for fair contracts.
NYSNA Director-at-Large Michelle Jones, RN, MSN, ANP-C has been a registered nurse for over 30 years working at Flushing hospital, a local community and safety-net hospital. She said: “New York City’s outer boroughs were hit hardest by the pandemic, and in addition to our public hospitals, community and safety-net hospitals cared for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 patients. We need to make sure affordable and essential healthcare services stay in our communities and that residents get a voice in their care. We believe that hospitals can simultaneously provide economic opportunities and improve safe staffing by creating training and employment opportunities for local community members.”
Several large union contracts are included in the “We Love NY Nurses” campaign, including the contracts for NYC Health+Hospitals/Mayorals nurses. That contract covers approximately two dozen acute care hospitals and ambulatory facilities, as well as nurses in mayoral agencies, whose contracts expire in March 2023.
NYSNA 1st Vice President, Judith Cutchin, RN, MSN, said: “The nearly 9,000 nurses of the NYC Health + Hospitals/Mayorals system are the backbone of New York City’s public health system, and we bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. To build back stronger and become the healthcare system New Yorkers deserve, NYC H+H nurses need safe staffing, fair wages and parity with New York City’s private hospitals.”
Several allies weighed in with their support of the campaign. NYSNA nurses were joined at the conference by NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, NYC Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, NYC Councilmember Julie Menin, and NYC Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who spoke out in solidarity with the nurses.
“Nurses are essential pillars of our healthcare system who provide quality care and protect the health of our communities,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “They are healthcare heroes who deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and support. It is imperative that they are provided fair wages and benefits, and safe staffing levels are prioritized to meet patient needs. I join the New York State Nurses Association in their call to uplift the safety, health, and well-being of our frontline nurses and the communities they serve.”
“Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “They put the needs of their patients above their own and care for everyone with compassion. It is deeply important that they get the pay, benefits, and safe working conditions that they deserve. I stand in solidarity with NYSNA and our frontline healthcare workers as they fight for a fair contract.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “New York City’s nurses are some of our most valuable frontline workers, and countless residents of our city owe them their lives. With COVID-19, monkeypox, polio, and even the West Nile virus all now impacting our communities, supporting our healthcare professionals must be the city’s top priority. The platform put forth by the New York State Nurses Association would improve patient care as well as protect our nurses’ livelihoods, and I am proud to support them during this critical juncture in their fight to secure a contract.”
Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs said: “New York’s nurses have devoted their lives to caring for us in our most vulnerable moments. Now, we must stand by them as they demand safe staffing, quality care for all, and the respect they deserve. I am proud to advocate for them alongside NYSNA, and I hope my friends in government, labor, and our communities join us.”
“Throughout the horrific COVID pandemic of the past two and one-half years, New York’s nurses have stepped up, risking their own health and safety to protect others,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF – Manhattan). “Their commitment to protecting the health of our communities has never wavered, and now it’s time to recognize and repay them with the fair contract they deserve. Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, but without the enforcement of safe staffing laws, fair wages, health and retirement benefits and other protections, the system will crumble. As tens of thousands of nurses’ contracts expire in the coming months, it’s more critical than ever to support our healthcare heroes.”
Nurses and allies also spent the day calling hospital executives and lobbyists, including the League of Voluntary Hospitals and the Iroquois Healthcare Association as part of a day-long action to put employers on notice that nurses will not accept any cuts to healthcare, stagnant wages, or attempts to undermine New York’s safe staffing law.
This campaign launch is just the beginning of New York’s nurses getting organized, mobilized, and ready to bargain and win fair contracts that respect nurses and patients.
A livestream of the event will be available at www.facebook.com/nynurses
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA)
For more information, visit nysna.org.
For more information about the “We Love NY Nurses” campaign, visit www.welovenynurses.org
Photo credit: NYSNA.