New York Nurses Achieve Major Gains for Patients and Practitioners in New Three-Year Contract With Northwell Health
Nurses and nurse practitioners represented by the New York Professional Nurses Union (NYPNU) voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract with Northwell Health, following a Labor Day rally, nearly two months of negotiation, 10-day strike authorization vote, and informational picket. The nurses union won the most significant wage increase achieved in the last decade for every nurse, nurse practitioner and per diem worker at Lenox Hill Hospital, Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, and Lenox Health Greenwich Village. NYPNU also successfully negotiated for accountability on safe staffing, providing for a process by which nurses can begin an arbitration process if patient to staff ratios fall too low. Through this new contract, Northwell Health must provide temporary and per diem workers when there are vacancies to help care for patients.
“When we started these negotiations, our primary focus was making sure that Northwell Health heard our concerns about alarming patterns in understaffing and took steps to protect the health and safety of our patients,” said Emily Bautista, NYPNU Executive Board Member and Neurosurgical ICU. “We are happy to now have Northwell Health’s commitment to fill vacancies with temporary and per diem workers and to introduce needed visibility and accountability. Having enforceable language in the contract will allow us to take action on behalf of our patients if we see staffing levels fall too low again.”
The raises for nurses, which average more than 5.5 percent for nearly every nurse for every year of three-year contract, will bring Northwell Health nurses in line with what other Manhattan facilities are paying for similar experience and responsibilities.
“We are very proud of the contract that our members won through collective action and persistence,” said Kathleen Flynn, RN JD, President of the New York Professional Nurses Union. “All of our members will finally be compensated fairly for their hard work comparable to other nurses working in Manhattan - a long overdue and much deserved change. Looking forward, when we go back to the bargaining table in three years, we will be in an even stronger position to continue our advocacy and the patients we serve.”
Other gains in the new contract include:
- Fixing the Sick Time Disciplinary Process: Nurses can now use the first 40 hours of their sick time without triggering the attendance disciplinary policy.
- Sick Time for Per Diems: Per Diems will now be able to accrue sick time based on the number of hours regularly worked.
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence & Assault: Members will now be able to use their sick time in the unfortunate event that the member or their family members are victims of domestic violence, assault, or human trafficking.
- Obligation to fill vacancies. Management must fill any type of vacancy with agency/travellers or pre-scheduled per diem coverage where there are leaves of absences and while new hires orient.
- Data and Enforcement. Management must provide data of all open positions to NYPNU and members may immediately grieve & arbitrate any violations.
- More robust staffing. A staff RN is provided as charge when an assistant nurse manager (ANM) is covering two or more units or when the ANM is off the unit for a significant amount of time.
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Licensure Reimbursement. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants will now be reimbursed for all DEA licensures required for their position.
The New York Professional Nurses Union (NYPNU) is a union by nurses and for nurses. The diverse group of staff that we exist to protect include staff and per diem registered nurses, case managers, nurse practitioners, and lactation specialists. Collectively, we fight for better working conditions and benefits, and for increased safety and quality care for our patients. We use inter-generational activism to build a broad-based, member-led movement to demand respect and change for our members at the Northwell Health-owned Lenox Hill Hospital, Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, and Lenox Health Greenwich Village.