NEW YORK — Hundreds of nurses, other unionists and supporters rallied outside Mount Sinai Hospital March 18 as the nurses’ union told the main private hospitals here that its members could go on strike April 2 if a contract agreement is not reached with the bosses’ NYC Hospital Alliance.
The New York State Nurses Association is demanding the hospitals hire more nurses. Current staffing levels are inadequate to give patients decent health care, the nurses say.
“Our main demands are for safe staffing and a decent package for retirees,” Gina Hawkins, a nurse at the rally, told the Militant. The 10,000 nurses at Mount Sinai, Montefiore and New York-Presbyterian Hospital health systems in March voted by over 97 percent to authorize a strike if contract talks fail.
“Right now we have to pay for half the cost of our health insurance after we retire,” Hawkins said. That can mean hundreds of dollars a month. It’s not unusual for nurses to go on a 12-hour shift without taking a break, because the hospitals refuse to hire enough nurses.
At the request of the bosses’ alliance, the U.S. Nursing Corporation, an agency that specializes in strikebreaking, is offering a $70 an hour pay rate and $1,000 bonus for scabs willing to cross the picket line if there is a strike.