Nurses Hail New Protections Against Mandatory Overtime

For Immediate Release: June 6, 2022 
Contact: Kristi Barnes | press@nysna.org | 646-853-4489

Nurses from the New York State Nurses Association, 1199SEIU, CSEA, NYSUT, CWA District 1 and UFT applaud the state legislature for passing bills to curb the abuse of mandatory overtime 

A trio of bills passed late on Friday, June 3 to reduce nurse burnout and improve patient care now head to Gov. Hochul’s desk 

Albany, NY - The New York State AFL-CIO, NYSNA, 1199SEIU, CSEA, PEF, NYSUT, CWA District One and UFT applaud the New York State Legislature for passing an urgently needed package of bills to protect nurses from mandatory overtime before the close of the 2021-22 legislative session. 

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic nurses worked around the clock, putting themselves and their families at risk, to care for us. During the best of times, nursing is a physically and emotionally demanding job that requires long hours, let alone during a public health crisis. This week, the New York State Senate and Assembly showed their gratitude by passing three critical pieces of legislation to protect nurses from unfair mandatory overtime. These common-sense reforms will protect our nurses and the integrity of patient care in our communities. 

New York’s union movement is grateful to Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Heastie, the bill sponsors, which include Senator Ramos, Senator Savino, Senator Jackson, Assembly Member Joyner, and Assembly Member Gunther, and all of the legislators who supported these bills. The bills are as follows: 

S8063A Ramos/A8874B Joyner - The existing law allowed employer exemptions to the mandatory overtime prohibition for certain short-term, unforeseen events with no limits on duration. This bill clarifies the durations of these events so that employers can’t continue to exploit the law to make up for their own inadequate staffing policies. 

S4885A Savino/A181A Gunther - The existing law excluded home care nurses, and this bill rights that wrong. Home care nurses deserve to have the same protections from unethical mandatory overtime policies as all other nurses.

A286A Gunther/S1997A Jackson - This bill strengthens the enforcement of our mandatory overtime laws by creating a fine for employers who break them. 

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said: “Our nurses gave us so much throughout the pandemic, which brought to center stage the physically, mentally and emotionally demanding nature of their jobs. The unfortunate truth is that mandatory overtime and staffing problems have plagued our healthcare system for years, which is why this package of bills is so important. We cannot continue to schedule our nurses for double or triple shifts with minimal breaks and expect quality care and safe working conditions. These bills will finally require better solutions to our staffing problems in hospitals and nursing homes by making exemptions from the mandatory overtime law more reasonable. The legislation will create meaningful consequences for employers that violate the law, and include home health care nurses in that protection. We thank the legislature for showing the same care for our nurses that our nurses show for all of us every day.” 

NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, said: "I want to thank New York's elected leaders who listened to nurses and took action to end abusive mandatory overtime for nurses. After working for more than two years through the COVID-19 pandemic—often understaffed and overworked—-nurses are exhausted. Mandatory overtime was pushing us to the breaking point and endangering quality patient care. These new laws show recognition and respect for frontline nurses’ hard work." 

Lisa Kozma, 1199SEIU member and RN at Garnet Health, said: “This is amazing news for New York’s nurses, and I thank all who made this possible. For nurses, it means a light at the end of the tunnel and relief from mandation. Nurses are tired enough at the end of our shifts when all we want is a shower, maybe some food and to hug our families without worrying about another 4-8 hours. This law will protect our patients, who deserve care from staff who are not suffering from burnout and exhaustion.” 

Mary Sullivan, President of CSEA, said: “New York is facing a nursing crisis, caused in part by the continued abuse of mandatory overtime in health care facilities. The package of legislation passed by the State Senate and Assembly will help better enforce the prohibition on mandatory overtime and allow nurses to do what they do best – care for patients.” 

Wayne Spence, President of PEF, said: “On behalf of PEF’s 50,000 members, we thank Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the legislative majorities in each house for their continued strong support of our nurse heroes. For too long, employers have been allowed to abuse the use of mandatory overtime to meet their staffing needs. This practice created a dangerous and unsustainable situation when these already overburdened frontline workers were needed to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This package of bills, coupled with the significant nurse attraction and retention initiatives passed as part of this year’s state budget, is a critical step towards rebuilding our nursing corps and reducing the unfair imposition of mandatory overtime on these critical workers. These sensible reforms are not only good for nurses, they are also good for patients. These initiatives will ensure that our public health system is ready to respond to future emergencies and they will help improve the quality of care for all New Yorkers. We strongly encourage Governor Hochul to enact these bills into law at the earliest possible opportunity.” 

Andy Pallotta, President of New York State United Teachers, said: “These bills are about respecting the frontline health care workers who have been showing up since day one of the pandemic and who continue to work doubly hard to provide for all New Yorkers. Especially for home care workers, addressing the use of mandatory overtime is critical relief for a workforce that has been stretched all too thin, even before the pandemic. We applaud the Legislature for recognizing the contributions of our health care heroes and look forward to the governor signing these bills into law.” 

Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One, said: “Healthcare workers are exhausted after putting themselves on the frontlines of a relentless pandemic for over two years. Mandatory overtime is an unfair and unsafe policy that exacerbates the staffing crisis and compromises quality patient care. Thank you to Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie and all members of the New York State Legislature who have stood up to support our healthcare workers by passing this vital legislative package.” 

Anne Goldman Vice President/ Federation of Nurses/ UFT, said: "Thank you for passing vital reforms to protect our home care nurses from abusive mandatory overtime practices by employers. These changes will safeguard our frontline healthcare workers and the patients they have dedicated their lives to care for. With this legislation, sponsors Senator Diane Savino, Assembly Member Aileen Gunther, herself a former nurse, and the legislative majorities in each house are defending our nurses and strengthening our health care system." 

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The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, visit nysna.org

The New York State AFL-CIO is a federation of 3,000 unions, representing 2.5 million members, retirees and their families with one goal; to raise the standard of living and quality of life of all working people. We keep New York State Union Strong by fighting for better wages, better benefits and better working conditions. For more information on the Labor Movement in New York, visit nysaflcio.org.

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