New Members at Mount Sinai

Marites Arizabal, NP; Sarah Nicol, NP; and John Peña, NP, work in Mount Sinai's Neurosurgery Department.

NYSNA welcomed 141 Nurse Practitioners and 10 Midwives from New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center on November 6, following an overwhelming vote in favor of union representation. (Eight Midwives organized and two new Midwives were hired.) These new members join 150 NPs, 18 recently organized Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, and 2,300 RNs who are already part of NYSNA’s Mount Sinai membership.

The victory came about through a well-coordinated effort between an active Organizing Committee within the new bargaining unit and existing NYSNA members who helped in locating and speaking with their counterparts seeking to organize but scattered across departments and programs. While NYSNA already represented some of Sinai’s NPs, the non-union NPs, who had the same credentials and experience, were working under the title “Coordinator” which kept them out of the bargaining unit — and working with lower pay, inferior benefits, and no representation.

Campaign for fairness

According to Gretchen Mathewson, NP and Organizing Committee Member, the campaign started about a year ago and built slowly, but steadily. “I work side by side with a NYSNA-represented NP,” she said. “We have the same training, education, and responsibilities, but my pay is a fraction of hers, and I haven’t had a raise in the five years I’ve worked at Sinai. Plus, her benefits, like pension and PTO, are far better, too. I love my job, but the unfairness really got to me, so I decided to do something about it.”

As with most organizing campaigns, there were obstacles along the way, but by August, when the Committee brought forward the representation petition to management, there were signatures from two-thirds of the unit. Given that strong level of support, Sinai’s management maintained a neutral stance in the weeks leading up to the certification election.

Jessica Hill, LM, one of the Licensed Midwives in the Mount Sinai unit, sees the union as the way to ensure quality patient care through safe staffing. “Through NYSNA, we’ll have a voice in determining what is a reasonable expectation of patient volume, which is essential to providing a high quality standard of care to the patients we serve,” she said. “The LMs are looking forward to establishing equity and fairness in our compensation structure. We want the hospital to recognize our education and experience and provide compensation comparable to that of other Advanced Practice Nurses with similar credentials. Currently, there is no uniformity in our pay and we receive no shift differentials, even though we regularly work weekends and nights.”

Next step: contract!

The Mount Sinai midwives join their fellow NYSNA midwives at Bronx Lebanon, who organized earlier this year.

Ms. Mathewson is excited to get the negotiating process started. “I’m looking forward to getting others involved in the Negotiating Committee and to seeing the contract surveys returned so that we can put together proposals that reflect the priorities of the group. We’re hoping to begin bargaining in December or January.”

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