NYSNA Nurses at Nyack, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon Hospitals Overwhelmingly Authorize a Strike with 96% Voting in Favor
Nearly 800 Nurses Ready to Strike for Safe Staffing and Respect
More than 40 Elected and Community Leaders Add Support to Nurses’ Demands for Fair Contracts
Nyack, N.Y.— Approximately 96% of New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) nurses voted to authorize a strike at Montefiore Nyack, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon Hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Approximately 100 NYSNA nurses and community allies, including Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation Field Coordinator Dylan Murphy and Rockland County Central Labor Council President Kevin Connell, spoke out in support of the nurses’ fight for a fair contract. Elected officials including Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski, Rockland County Legislator-elects Beth Davidson and Dana Stilley, and Rockland County Legislator and Retired Montefiore Nyack nurse Aney Paul also showed up to voice their support.
A livestream of today’s event can be found on NYSNA’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nynurses. Media outlets have permission to use all videos and pictures from NYSNA’s social media feeds with credit to NYSNA.
The nurses’ contracts with the hospitals will expire on Dec. 31, 2023. One of those facilities, Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, went on a three-day strike three years ago. Montefiore nurses in the Bronx went on a three-day strike approximately one year ago for better patient care. Nurses from all three hospitals are demanding that Montefiore settle fair contracts this time around—on time.
For the first time, nearly 800 nurses across the three facilities are bargaining with a common contract expiration date and common bargaining platform, including safe staffing with strong accountability for patient safety and respectful competitive wages that help recruit and retain nurses.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, all three facilities have seen high nurse turnover. Several areas of each hospital are routinely understaffed because working conditions and wages have not kept pace with nearby hospitals. The nurse vacancy rate at Nyack Hospital is nearly 25%, and it is 20% at New Rochelle. At Mount Vernon, there’s been a 23% reduction in the work force since 2020 due to resignations, vacancies, and service reductions by Montefiore.
Approximately 40 elected officials, area labor and community leaders signed a letter to Montefiore supporting the nurses’ fight for fair contracts and their demands for safe staffing, fair pay and community health. NYSNA nurses at Nyack delivered this letter to management during a negotiation session immediately after the speak-out. See a copy of the letter here.
NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, said: “Nurses everywhere are speaking out and demanding better working conditions and better care conditions for our patients. NYSNA nurses are in this fight, and we have your back! It makes no sense at all that Montefiore would treat the nurses in the Bronx and the nurses just over the border from the Bronx so differently. All Monte nurses deserve fair pay and enforceable safe staffing ratios! And patients in the Bronx, in Mount Vernon, in New Rochelle, in Nyack all deserve quality care with enough nurses at the bedside. Every patient is a VIP! Let’s do whatever it takes to make sure Monte nurses win fair contracts that help deliver quality care for ALL New Yorkers—no matter the zip code!”
Anna Marie Perkins, RN, nurse about 42 years at Montefiore Nyack, said: “Nurses are overwhelmed. They go home at the end of the day knowing they weren’t able to give the patients the care they wanted to and can’t sleep at night because of this. We need to change this. We need enforceable staffing ratios to protect our patients and our nurses’ mental and physical health!”
Shavelle Edmond, RN in the emergency department at Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital, said: “Our resolve for fair contracts is unwavering. Montefiore must bridge the gap in wages, address staffing challenges, and prioritize patient safety over executive compensation. With an overwhelming 96% mandate, we stand ready to advocate fiercely for our patients and the quality care they deserve.”
The three Montefiore hospitals are bargaining separately on a common contract expiration date and a common platform for the first time. NYSNA-represented nurses are demanding Montefiore administration settle fair contracts that prioritize safe staffing ratios with strong accountability, competitive wages, and improvements to health and educational benefits that honor nurses’ service and quality care.
Melissa Ricketts, RN, Montefiore New Rochelle nurse, said: “Safe staffing is number one for New Rochelle. As individual nurses, we do our best every day, but it’s sad when patients can tell how understaffed we are. Patients deserve better. They deserve quality care. But as individuals there’s nothing more we can do – the hospitals need to make a move. This is why we need to ensure we reach a fair agreement in a timely manner. We need respectful wages, enforceable staffing ratios so we can fill vacant positions.”
Nurses have been at the bargaining table since late August and continue to negotiate in good faith for a fair contract for nurses and patients. Unfortunately, the vast majority of proposals from nurses to improve conditions at the hospitals have been rejected by management. That’s why nurses are calling on Montefiore to listen to the nurses and deliver contracts that respect nurses and patients in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Tracey McCook, RN, nurse at Montefiore Mount Vernon since 1988, said: “We’ve been dealing with a mental health crisis for years here, but it seems to have escalated since the start of COVID-19. This, coupled with drug use in the community, creates at times a very volatile situation. When we don’t have enough staff and you have patients coming in suicidal, homicidal, it requires a higher level of care. And we can’t meet that demand. This puts the safety of nurses and our patients at risk. Without one-to-one staffing support, nurses must perform more than just their job of caring for their patients- they must work as security too. It’s a disastrous situation. The residents in this community deserve the same level of care as neighboring communities. Quality of care should not be impacted by your zip code.”
Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., said: “Throughout the New York State Nurses Association’s contract fights I have always proudly stood by their side. As our incredible nurses start yet another fight for a fair contract, I will continue to fight tirelessly with them. The nurses of Westchester and Rockland counties deserve safe staffing ratios, competitive wages, and improvements to health and educational benefits that honor how vital they are to our communities. Montefiore must come to the table with a fair contract that supports the nurses that make sure their hospitals run.”
State Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “I am proud to support the incredible nurses of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) as they fight for more sustainable working conditions and a fair contract. We have depended on nurses more than ever over the past several years, and we rely on them when we or our loved ones are unwell. I applaud the nurses of the Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and Nyack Montefiore Hospitals for coming together to demand investments in the workforce, a fair contract, and safe staffing ratios. We know these priorities not only benefit the nurses, but they improve care for patients. We must prioritize the needs of nurses, stand by them, and do everything we can to ensure they are respected and have a safe and sustainable working environment. I am confident that with good faith bargaining there can be a just result.”
David Peters, New Rochelle Councilman-Elect of D-33, said: I stand with the nurses in securing the level of care needed in this vital service to our community. We must keep our hospitals thriving in caring for our most vulnerable residents. We must also realize that it is important they we take care of the caregivers.
New York State Senator Peter Harckham said: “NYSNA nurses have been speaking out against unsafe staffing at Montefiore for years. Nurses at Montefiore deserve a contract that secures fair pay and improvements to health & educational benefits that honor nurses’ service and quality care.”
New York State Assembly Member Nader Sayegh said: “The commitment of our local nurses to their patients is unwavering. It’s time we reciprocate that dedication by supporting their call for safe staffing and equitable working conditions, recognizing that a thriving healthcare system starts with respecting those who provide the care.”
Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation Field Coordinator Dylan Murphy said: “The Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation stands in solidarity with Nurses from Montefiore Nyack, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon Hospitals. Their fight for a fair contract is our fight, and we will use all of the tools at our disposal to combat corporate greed. To the nurses: You are part of our labor family, and all of our private and public sector Unions have your back! The staffing shortage at local hospitals is a public health crisis, and nurses and the patients that they selflessly care for, deserve better. We demand a timely and fair contract from Montefiore and we will keep fighting until justice is served.”
Westchester County Legislator Jewel Williams Johnson said: “We know nurses are an essential component and play a crucial role in patient care. They are pro-communicators and collaborators whose expertise, insight, compassion, and dedication are fundamental in maintaining the well-being of patients throughout their healthcare journey. Institutions must recognize the support and safety of and the equitable investment in nurses are crucial for ensuring optimal patient care and contributes to a safer healthcare environment and system as a whole. The call on Montefiore to hear NYSNA’s demand is not only just, but essential for our Lower Hudson Valley communities.”
Westchester County Legislator David Tubiolo said: “Our nurses were there for us during the pandemic, and it is only right that we be there for them right now. Nurses deserve a fair contract and a safe working environment.”
Kevin Connell, Rockland County Central Labor Council President, said: The Rockland Central Labor Council stands in Solidarity with the nurses across the Montefiore Health System in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and in our own backyard Nyack. The administration of the Montefiore Health System must adhere to safe staffing ratios and show their very hard-working nurses the respect they so much deserve.
Beth Davidson, Legislator-elect, Rockland County Board of Legislators said: “Having both been a patient myself and brought multiple family members to Montefiore Nyack, I can attest firsthand to the importance of nurses in providing quality care. I stand in solidarity with our nurses in demanding safer staffing ratios, competitive wages, and strong health, education, and retirement benefits—which will help to not only retain experienced nurses but also recruit the next generation of RNs.”
Dr. Dana Stilley, Legislator-elect, Rockland County Board of Legislators said: “Nurses play a vital role in our ability to access equitable, safe, quality healthcare. I stand in solidarity with the nurses who are fighting to address public health issues related to safe staffing, the recruitment and retention of nurses, and competitive wages.”
Westchester County Legislator Benjamin Boykin II said: “Nurses are a critical part of health care organizations to protect the health and safety of patients. I stand with and support the NYSNA at Montefiore Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Nyack for safe staffing ratios, appropriate pay and benefits. These nurses deserve a fair and equitable contract now.”
Emiljana Ulaj, Westchester County Legislator-elect for District 9, said: “Montefiore nurses deserve a fair contract, and the community deserves safe staffing levels. This contract fight is about dignity on the job and patient care. Every patient feels the difference when nursing positions go unfilled and there’s high turnover at a hospital. I am proud to stand with NYSNA members at Montefiore hospitals throughout the Hudson Valley until they get the contract they deserve. Nurses deserve better, and Montefiore needs to do better.”
New York State Assembly Member Dana Levenberg (95th District) said: “If nurses cannot secure a fair contract guaranteeing them safe staffing and competitive wages, the communities surrounding these hospitals will suffer. Communities can’t hope to have effective hospitals without nurses, and these hospitals are already routinely experiencing understaffing because of high nurse vacancy rates. It is imperative that Montefiore negotiate in good faith and work together with union leadership to deliver fair contracts on time.”
Westchester County Legislator Terry Clements (D – New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor) said: “Many of my constituents in New Rochelle and Pelham rely on Montefiore for their health services. Currently their well-being is compromised by reduced nursing staff. Well trained, properly paid nurses are essential to good healthcare, and I support all of NYSNA’s efforts to ensure that happens and happens quickly.”
New York State Assembly Member Chris Eachus said: “Nurses care for us at our most vulnerable. They deserve a fair, timely contract that will ensure their safety and well-being, as well as the safety and well-being of every patient under their care.”
Westchester County Legislator Colin Smith said: “I call on Montefiore to hear NYSNA’s demand that our nurses and patients deserve better. I stand in solidarity with the nurses across the Montefiore Health System in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Nyack hospitals who are fighting for a fair contract, safe staffing, community investment, and respectful, competitive wages that help recruit and keep nurses. We must ensure that our communities have the highest quality healthcare possible. With a strong contract, they can work to address the health and safety needs of our communities. We are calling on Montefiore to negotiate and commit to a fair contract that demonstrates a real investment in the Lower Hudson Valley communities and creates the kind of quality jobs that are needed.”
Rockland County Legislator-elect Jesse Malowitz said: “Nurses play such an important role in our health care system. I’m proud to stand with the nurses of Montefiore Health in their fight for better wages, safe staffing, and retiree benefits that will help nurses of the present and future.”
Michael Yellin, Co-Chair of New Rochelle Alliance for Justice (NRAJ) said: “The Pastors, community members and Building Trades representatives who are members of the New Rochelle Alliance for Justice call on Montefiore to settle its contract with NYSNA nurses in New Rochelle, Mt. Vernon and Nyack by meeting their just demands for safe staffing levels and the pay and benefits required to recruit and retain nurses in these three hospitals. Our communities depend on NYSNA nurses to deliver quality care and that is only possible by including contract language that allows them to do so by holding Montefiore accountable.”