New York City Nurses Strike Comes to an End Amid Union Agreement

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Not enough nurses, no breaks, no overtime pay – no more. More than 7,000 nurses spent this week on picket lines, but they returned to work Thursday, after getting a text at 2:30 a.m. that read “we won.”

Jenny DeSuyo is headed into work for anything but a normal day as an ER nurse.

“This is what we’ve been fighting for, it felt nice to know we made a difference and that we’re moving forward,” she said.

Nurses at Mt. Sinai and Montefiore Health Systems, two of the city’s largest hospitals were on strike this week. Their biggest concern was patient-to-nurse ratio.

“I think the biggest difference is we’ll be able to provide safer care to our patients, the more nurses we have, the safer care we can provide,” said radiology nurse Rada Kirichenko.

Since the pandemic more than 333,000 healthcare workers left their jobs due to burnout, long hours and heavy patient loads.

“Sometimes we couldn’t even take a break, no time to use the bathroom and there was so much documentation that nurses have to stay overtime not being paid to complete paperwork,” Kirichenko said.

The new tentative agreement reached by the New York State Nurses Association union includes a 19.1 percent wage increase and the addition of registered nurses and nurse practitioners. During the strike both hospitals were forced to transfer patients and divert ambulances to other hospitals as well as postpone non-emergency surgeries.

“I feel like we accomplished so much over the last three days and our voices were heard. We felt so powerful, especially people driving by and honking, we had the best support,” said Kirichenko.

Now they’re looking forward to a big change.

“I feel like we’ll be able to breathe because knowing that we’ll be able to do our job properly and safely and the patients will get what they deserve and need, that’s what I’m excited about,” said DeSuyo.

And thanking God the deal was in their favor.

“I prayed for our voices to be heard and prayers were answered,” said Kirichenko.

“Praying for a good outcome and a positive outcome, and it worked, God is good,” said DeSuyo.

The nurses union called the deal just as much a win for patients as it is for nurses. In the wake of this negotiation nurses at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn also reached a tentative deal early this morning and withdrew their 10-day-strike notice.