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NYC nurses give 10-day strike notice as talks continue

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of nurses in New York City notified eight hospitals on Friday that they will go on strike in 10 days unless contract agreements are reached.

Friday was the last scheduled day of negotiations as the contracts were set to expire on Saturday. The New York State Nurses Association, the union that represents the nurses, said it planned to continue bargaining up to the Jan. 9 strike date.

The 10-day notices are required by law to give hospitals time to arrange for alternate staffing to care for patients. A strike would include about 16,000 nurses at the eight privately run hospitals, the union said.

“But the best way for management to protect patients is to listen to nurses and settle fair contracts that protect patient care in the next 10 days,” the union said in a statement.

The eight hospitals where the nurses could strike include New York-Presbyterian, Montefiore, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, Maimonides, BronxCare, Richmond University Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center.

Representatives of several hospitals said Friday night that they remained hopeful contract agreements will be reached before a strike but said they are prepared to bring in outside workers as a precaution as they face high patient volume because of the “tripledemic” of COVID-19, RSV and the flu.

“While we have proposed unprecedented wage increases, totaling 17.5% over the life of a four-year contract, unfortunately, union leadership’s approach could force nurses to abandon their patients at the bedside at the height of the tripledemic,” New York-Presbyterian said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Mount Sinai Health System, Lucia Lee, said in a statement Friday night that the system’s bargaining teams are continuing “good-faith efforts to pursue a contract with NYSNA (the union) that is fair to our community and responsible with respect to the long-term financial health of our organization.”

Alexander Lutz, a spokesperson for Richmond University Medical Center, said the hospital has a policy to not comment publicly about negotiations, “other than to say that we appreciate all of our nurses at Richmond University Medical Center and thank them for the care they provide to every single one of our patients each and every day.”

The union also represents another 1,000 nurses at five other New York City hospitals whose contracts expire Saturday.

The nurses have been calling for what they describe as safe staffing levels, fair wages, no cuts to their health coverage and health and safety protections in light of the “tripledemic.”

They also want community benefits such as funding programs to recruit and train nurses from within the communities they serve.