Nurses at St. Catherine of Siena in Smithtown have been fighting for a new three-year contract. On August 22, nurses finally won and ratified a new contract that includes the main demands that nurses fought for from the beginning: safe staffing and respectful wages. The breakthrough came after nurses voted “Yes” to authorize to strike.
St. Catherine’s nurses began negotiations on June 30, but management dragged its feet on safe staffing proposals, the central demand for nurses. St. Catherine nurses were at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic on Long Island and saw the Smithtown community through one of its toughest public health challenges. The hospital currently has over 100 nurse vacancies, and nurses held firm for a contract that will retain and recruit enough nurses for safe patient care.
Hundreds of nurses lined up and participated during bargaining sessions, marched on the boss, and signed petitions demanding a fair contract from St. Catherine and Catholic Health System management. After months of mobilization leading up to a strike authorization vote, nurses went back to the table on Aug. 17. After bargaining throughout the night, they finally reached a deal with St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in the early morning of Aug. 18.
The contract brings base salaries in line with other Long Island hospitals and provides wage increases of more than 23% over the life of the contract. The contract also outlines new safe staffing ratios and expediated staffing enforcement language to ensure nurses can provide quality patient care. Nurses likewise won Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Jr. Day as premium holidays, increases to all differentials, a four-hour on-call pay minimum, float pay and incentive pay, an increase to retiree health benefits, and more! Newsday and Patch covered the ratification vote.
This victory comes after St. Joseph’s Hospital of Catholic Health Services settled a contract with increased wages and staffing wins for nurses in April, and this past June, St. Charles nurses settled a new contract shortly after delivering a strike notice. With this latest victory, Long Island nurses make it clear they are ready to do whatever it takes to fight and win better working conditions and improved patient safety.