NYSNA Nurses Rally Demanding Westchester Medical Center Provide Safe Staffing and a Fair Contract

For immediate release: Wednesday, September 7 
Contact: Kristi Barnes | press@nysna.org | (646) 853-4489 

NYSNA Nurses Rally Demanding Westchester Medical Center Provide Safe Staffing and a Fair Contract 

Valhalla, NY –  Over a hundred members of the New York State Nurses Association at Westchester Medical Center rallied in front of the hospital today. During the rally, nurses called attention to unsafe working conditions in the hospital as a result of understaffing. Nurses highlighted the need for a fair contract with fair and competitive wages, a real plan to recruit and retain nurses, and improved patient care through safe staffing. 

Westchester Medical Center nurses are the backbone of public health in Westchester County and beyond — providing lifesaving care to a six-county area. However, Westchester Medical Center is not retaining frontline nurses. The hospital loses over 20 nurses a month and has failed to hire enough nurses to fill vacant positions to meet patients’ needs. 

“Our nurses are challenged daily to deliver safe patient care with short staffing,” said local bargaining unit president David Long, RN. “Our medical-surgical nurses are taking assignments of as many as 7 or 8 patients with little or no support staff. Unfortunately, many nurses are leaving because they are being overworked. We are losing more than 20 nurses monthly due to resignations and early retirements. We currently have nearly 100 vacant nursing positions.” 

Nurses sounded the alarm on poor staffing conditions and about Westchester Medical Center administration’s refusal to put the safe staffing ratios they negotiated as part of New York’s hospital staffing law into the nurses’ union contract. The rally comes after nearly a year of negotiations between NYSNA nurses and management at Westchester Medical Center. 

Local bargaining unit second vice president, Mary Lynn Boyts, RN, said, “They refuse to put negotiated and agreed upon safe nurse-to-patient ratios in our contract because it will hold them accountable. Now they are refusing to negotiate a modest salary increase that will help recruit and retain nurses needed to be compliant with New York’s staffing laws.” 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Westchester Medical Center nurses working on the frontlines have been understaffed and under-resourced. They have not received COVID-19 bonus pay unlike healthcare workers at many other hospitals. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Westchester Medical Center Health Network CEO Michael Israel increased his total compensation by 33.5%. In 2021, he made $3.4 million total compensation, making the CEO of this public hospital among one of the highest paid hospital executives in New York state. [1] 

Nurses at Westchester Medical Center also join the over 30,000 NYSNA members who will be bargaining contracts for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. NYSNA nurses are bargaining for improved patient care, including safer staffing levels and better pay and working conditions to recruit and retain nurses. 

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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.

Reference: 
[1] https://www.seethroughny.net/payrolls

About NYSNA

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