NEW YORK, Aug. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a major win for front-line nurses represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at 12 private sector hospitals in NYC, contracts covering 17,000 registered nurses have been settled, the nurses announced today. There were no givebacks in the new contracts covering four years and on a key issue -- safe staffing -- nurses achieved an important victory, as over 1,000 nurses were added, including new FTEs (full-time equivalent nurses), as well as float pool nurses to cover sick days and other episodic absences.
"Thousands of us worked together in achieving these contracts, speaking in one voice on key issues," said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, an RN at Montefiore Medical Center and President of NYSNA. "The unity of purpose and determination to better conditions and protect patients was extraordinary."
The additional positions are above and beyond staffing additions made prior to the contract settlement this year by hospital management to fill in RN ranks, as there were not enough nurses to do the job. The central focus for NYSNA's demand was the need to add more nurses and enforce staffing ratios and grids.
The FTEs will be directed to hospital units to fulfill staffing ratios/grids in units most affected. Evidence-based nurse-to-patient RN staffing ratios are essential to providing safe, quality patient care. Studies have shown that staffing ratios reduce patient deaths. Staffing ratios/grids were contained in clauses in the nurses' expired contracts but in some hospitals and on certain units unfulfilled staffing ratios/grids were common. These shortfalls will be addressed by the new contracts.
"What a win for staffing ratios! They were a part of past contracts but now there is an acknowledgment by management that they must make them a reality in every hospital, on every unit. Every patient is a VIP," said Nancy Hagans, and RN at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.
"It is hoped that this win will help create jobs for nurses looking to get a start in the profession. And by keeping experienced nurses on the job new nurses learn from them," said Karine Raymond, an RN at Montefiore Medical Center at member of NYSNA's board of directors.
In order to enforce the staffing ratios/grids and other issues, Professional Practice Committees, or similarly named committees inside the hospitals, are to be formed with enhanced mechanisms for addressing contract provisions.
In another first, the nurses won the right to engage in informational picketing during the life of the contract, allowing staffing, safety and other issues to be brought to the public's attention. NYSNA has campaigned in its contracts and in the state legislature to bring understaffing issues to the fore and is committed to addressing healthcare disparities in underserved communities.
This was the first multi-employer negotiation for NYSNA, commenced in January when management and nurses from Montefiore Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Luke's-Roosevelt hospitals bargained together. Nurses won wage increases of 13.1% (compounded) over the four-year deal. Benefits were maintained or enhanced. The multi-employer contracts served as a foundation for other contract settlements for the nurses.
Nurses also won new language governing harassment and workplace violence. And there will be RN input into technology to enhance nursing practice.
Federal mediators played an important role in reaching agreement in number of the contracts, including in the multi-employer agreement.
"This is a very significant win for patients and for nurses who care for them," said Patricia Kane, an RN at Staten Island University Hospital and Treasurer of NYSNA. "These contracts mark a significant step along the way to ensuring that communities across the five boroughs will receive the care they deserve."
Today's announcement pertains to the following private sector NYC hospitals: Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Brooklyn Hospital Center, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center*, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai St. Luke's-Mount Sinai Roosevelt, New York Methodist Hospital, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital. * Includes (Greater NYC area): Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 37,000 members in New York State. We are New York's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit our website at www.nysna.org
SOURCE The New York State Nurses Association