There is much to celebrate in the new contract won by HHC/Mayorals in New York City. The terms are exceptionally good; two new funds – for education and training and for child and elder care – are very meaningful additions. The contract lays a “foundation for a strong future,” said Anne Bové, RN, Bellevue Hospital Center and president of NYSNA’s HHC/Mayorals Executive Council. But this deal also signals a new era in city government, a spirit of cooperation and commitment to bringing an end to healthcare disparities, and a tangible step towards countering the array of inequality that has defined New York City in recent years.
This important contract victory is the result of many forces coming together, a coordinated effort of members and leadership over many months to position the union in negotiations and for support.
First, members provided input and direction, as attendance at the monthly Executive Council meetings was consistently high and engagement at meetings very pronounced. Both public hospital RNs and Mayoral nurses posed questions, sought information and helped shape the negotiations early on.
What permeated these meetings, facility gatherings, community outreach and city-wide messaging was the paramount commitment on the part of public hospital nurses to access to care for all New Yorkers. RNs at the public hospitals provide quality care to all who seek it, no matter their condition, immigration status or ability to pay. This extraordinary ethic binds the nurses to one another; more, it serves as a reminder of New York’s greatness – a welcome to an exceptionally diverse population with a promise of healthcare when needed.
A city government that respects nurses
Politics also played an important role in this win. For the first time in NYSNA history, the union endorsed city candidates. Bill de Blasio stood with nurses at protests to stop hospital closings, called for an end to healthcare disparities, even engaged in civil disobedience during his campaign, landing in jail to further these causes. For these actions, for telling the “Tale of Two Cities” – a time of gross inequality under the leadership of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg – we got behind de Blasio.
During the contract negotiations, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his team showed respect for nurses and made a fair deal. Others in city government, many who we supported during the election season, echoed that respect.
Like the contract, this new era in progressive politics in the city calls for celebration. These are a politics that embrace union workers and their contributions to the city and re-elevate labor to a place of respect. That’s a win-win.
Betty Alcindor, RN, Elmhurst Hospital Center. “I’m excited about the child care services. I work one job but my husband also works. This would provide time, not having to worry. My son gets a new experience.”
Christopher Dubissette, RN, Kings County Hospital Center. "Any benefits that you gain without giving back is impressive."
Pictured above KCHC, from left – Christopher Dubisette, Junietha Goodwin, Marlena Brown, Leunz Cadely, and Dallas Gordon-Grant
Susan Flanagan, RN, Bellevue Hospital Center (center). “I just buried my father and now I have my mom at home. It’s not just kids that need us. With support, it enables me to come to work with peace of mind and not have constant worry.”
Arlyn Vasquez, RN, Bellevue Hospital Center (voting). “With child care, I have this sense of security. It allows you to focus, body and mind.”
Leatrice Durant, RN, Jacobi Medical Center. “I‘m happy that we‘re getting increases and there‘s some lump payment. I‘m happy that we don‘t have to give back. I feel more confident about my paycheck as a homeowner.”
Barbara Ann Turner, RN, Harlem Hospital Center. “I‘ve been a nurse for 38 years. We have such a volume of very sick patients. I think the nurses work hard, and we deserve what we‘re entitled to. It‘s a new beginning.”