(NEW YORK) — The New York City nurses’ strike finally ended after the hospitals and the employees reached a tentative agreement early Thursday morning.
More than 7,000 nurses at Montefiore Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital — two of the city’s largest hospitals — walked off the job for three days as they argued for better pay, safer staffing and better working conditions.
The hospitals and the New York State Nurses Association, which represents the nurses, said the tentative deal meant nurses would be returning to work.
“This is a historic victory for New York City nurses and for nurses across the country,” Nancy Hagans, NYSNA president, said in a statement. “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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
Although the striking nurses have argued for fair compensation, one of their biggest grievances is the nurse-to-patient ratio, which measures how many patients a nurse is responsible for, at a hospital, arguing that their contract did not address these ratios.
Under the agreement at Montefiore, new safe staffing ratios will be implemented in the emergency department. This will come with new staffing language and financial penalties if safe staffing levels are not met in all units.
Also included are a 19.1% compounded wage increase, a commitment to creating 170 new nursing positions and lifetime health coverage for eligible retired nurses.
Montefiore will also develop nurse student partnerships to recruit local Bronx nurses so they can stay as union nurses at the hospital.
“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,” Dr. Philip Ozuah, president and CEO of Montefiore Medicine, said in a statement. “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.”
Meanwhile, Mount Sinai did not reveal what was in the agreement reached between hospital administrators and nurses, saying in a short statement “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.”
Mount Sinai previously told ABC News that it had also offered a 19% compounded wage increase to nurses during negotiations.
However, the nurses said Mount Sinai agreed to safe nurse-to-patient ratios that will be firmly enforced so there will be enough nurses to care for patients, and that the ratios will take effect immediately.
Gov. Kathy Hochul visited the striking nurses outside Mount Sinai Thursday morning and commended them for reaching a deal so they could return to work.
“So these individuals [who] are angels here on Earth can get back to saving lives, and helping the most vulnerable people in our society, those who enter these doors sick,” she said. “The city can take a sigh of relief, as well as continue to applaud and champion the men and women who were walking in the doors behind us this morning.”
ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway and Peter Charalambous contributed to this report.
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