New York City nurse strike enters second day without Mount Sinai Hospital, union returning to bargaining table

New York City nurses are reportedly on strike for a second day Tuesday.

So far, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), a union representing 40,000 workers across the state, and two New York City hospitals — Mount Sinai Main in Manhattan and Montefiore Bronx – have failed to reach tentative agreements after bargaining broke down over the weekend.

Negotiations resumed Monday afternoon at Montefiore, and both sides said they were close to a deal. They were to reconvene for talks at 10 a.m. Tuesday, WABC reported. As for Mount Sinai, bargaining has not resumed since it broke down around 1 a.m. Monday, and now new discussions were scheduled.

As many as 3,500 nurses at Montefiore Medical Center and about 3,600 at Mount Sinai Hospital were off the job Monday.

NY AG VOWS MASSIVE NYC NURSE STRIKE NOT ABOUT MONEY, ‘BUT SAFETY,’ AS COVID RAGES IN CITY

Nurses stage a strike in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital in the Manhattan borough of New York Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, after negotiations broke down hours earlier.
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The privately owned, nonprofit hospitals were postponing nonemergency surgeries, diverting ambulances to other medical centers, pulling in temporary staffers, and assigning administrators with nursing backgrounds to work in wards in order to cope with the walkout. Nurses say they’re forced to work long hours attending to an unsafe patient load, putting themselves and patients at risk while management has refused to address staffing shortages extending to hundreds of vacancies left open for months.

The strike comes at a time when COVID-19 fatality rates in New York City have reached the highest since February 2022. And the latest federal health data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York and New Jersey peaked at an 11-month high in December as the most transmissible variant yet drives another infection wave nearly three years into the pandemic.

Joining the picketing line outside Mount Sinai Main on Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James stressed that the strike was about, “not money, but safety.”

She recalled how when the Big Apple became ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, nurses were there for patients’ families when visitations were suspended and pointed to the nursing home scandal under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A supporter stands through the sunroof of a passing vehicle in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital in the Manhattan borough of New York Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, as nurses stage a strike following the breakdown of negotiations with the hospital hours earlier.
((AP Photo/Craig Ruttle))

“I remember the bodies. I remember the caskets,” James said. “Not one elected official was around – but the only individuals that remained around and remained consistent, were nurses!”

On Tuesday, picketing was to continue at 7 a.m. at four designated locations. A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Montefiore Moses Campus in the Bronx.

Down from the anticipated 10,000 nurses expected to strike ahead of weekend talks, the union said some 7,000 actually walked out Monday. Late Tuesday, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, and BronxCare all approved new nursing contracts.

Amid the strike, the union has shared a message urging New Yorkers not to delay care.

Nurses stage a strike in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital in the Manhattan borough of New York Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, after negotiations broke down hours earlier.
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

“To all of our patients, to all New Yorkers, we want to be absolutely clear: If you are sick, please do not delay getting medical care, regardless of whether we are on strike. Patients should seek hospital care immediately if they need it. We would rather be the ones providing that care, but our bosses have pushed us to be out here instead,” NYSNA said. “We appreciate solidarity from our patients — but going into the hospital to get the care you need is NOT crossing our strike line. In fact, we invite you to come join us on the strike line after you’ve gotten the care you need. We are out here so we can provide better patient care to you!”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, center, speaks as she is joined by health care professionals and officials during a news conference as nurses stage a strike in front of Mt. Sinai Hospital in the Manhattan borough of New York, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, after negotiations broke down hours earlier.
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams, in anticipation of the strike Sunday, urged New Yorkers not to dial 911 unless absolutely necessary. He told WBLS Monday, “Our nurses were on the front line during COVID. Many of them jeopardized their own physical safety… And we need to remember that and make sure we are fair with them during this contract period.”

Comptroller Brad Lander joined the picking line, tweeting, “Proud to stand in solidarity with the nurses of Mt. Sinai and Montefiore calling for fairer treatment, for patients and nurses.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.