FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2023
Contact: Kristi Barnes | firstname.lastname@example.org | 646-853-4489
99% of NYC Public Hospital Nurses Vote Yes to Endorse Contract
Nurses Win Pay Parity and the Largest Salary Increase Ever for NYC Public Sector Nurses
With Historic Pay Increases and Safe Staffing Improvements, Nurses Say Contract Will Help Recruit and Retain More Nurses for Quality Care
New York, NY—This week, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) nurses voted to endorse their new contract with NYC Health+Hospitals (H+H)/Mayoral agencies and the City of New York. The contract package includes a binding arbitration award for pay parity and safe staffing, several agreements to improve nurse retention and work life, and the creation of a citywide nurse float pool to improve staffing and reduce the overreliance on expensive temporary travel nurse contracts.
The new five-and-a-half-year contract was hard-fought and comes after many months of speaking out and escalated actions. Negotiations began on Feb. 14, and in July, the parties entered expedited mediation and then impasse arbitration. The arbitrator delivered the binding award on Monday, July 31, making pay parity salary increases effective on that date. NYSNA members attended educational sessions this week to learn more details about the new contract and cast an endorsement vote on the total contract package.
NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, said: “Members made their voices heard in this endorsement vote, and they are elated. The skeptics said that NYC public sector nurses could never win pay parity, but our members showed up, showed out, and showed this city that they deserve respect and that their patients deserve respect. This is a new day for New York City's nurses and patients."
NYC H+H/Mayorals nurses emphasized the crisis of high turnover in the system because of the large and growing pay disparity between private- and public-sector nurses. The public system had 2,000 nurse vacancies—a full quarter of the workforce and was filling the holes with expensive temp travel nurse contracts that cost more than three times the cost of employing staff nurses, all benefits included.
Nurses spoke out, including at New York City Council hearings, about how low pay and chronic understaffing were harming patient care. They described how caring for too many patients at once was not safe for patients and was contributing to exhaustion and high turnover in the public system. They spoke about pay equity as a necessity to retain enough experienced nurses for health equity and racial justice for their patients, who are mostly Black and brown and low-income.
NYSNA director at large and president of NYSNA’s NYC H+H/Mayorals Executive Council, Sonia Lawrence, RN, BSN, said: “NYC H+H and Mayorals nurses helped save New York through the COVID-19 pandemic and get the city back on its feet. We are the backbone of healthcare for all New Yorkers. This contract levels the playing field to help us recruit and retain nurses. It will strengthen our essential public health system—the largest and best in the country that delivers quality care with dignity and compassion—and help us be better prepared for whatever comes next.”
The city’s public health system is the largest in the country, serving more than 1 million patients a year, many of them uninsured. Approximately 8,000 nurses work in 11 acute care hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, jails, and mayoral agencies serving first responders and New Yorkers receiving assistance from agencies such as the Administration for Child Services and the Department of Social Services.
Highlights of the new contract include:
- Two years of pay parity wage increases, effective 7/31/23. The awarded payments of $16,006 in year one and $5,551 in year two bring public-sector salaries up to par with NYC private-sector nurse salaries.
- Salary increases of 3%, 3% and 3.25% in years 3, 4, and 5 of the contract that when combined with the parity award total an increase of at least 37% over the life of the contract for all full-time members.
- Improved staffing ratios, and new staffing ratios will be expanded beyond the 11 acute care hospitals into other RN settings.
- Improved staffing enforcement, including a new staffing subcommittee, an expanded pool of mediators to hear and resolve staffing disputes, and a fact-finding process if the parties fail to reach an agreement on mediation.
- A new system-wide float pool to improve staffing throughout the hospitals and reduce nurse floating and use of expensive temp travel nurses.
Approximately 8,000 NYSNA nurses at NYC Health+Hospitals facilities and mayoral agencies had been in negotiations for a new contract since Feb. 14, 2023. Their contract expired on March 2, 2023. Throughout their campaign, they emphasized that pay equity was a matter of health equity and racial justice for public sector patients and the mostly women of color who work in the H+H/Mayorals health system. Joined by elected officials and community allies, nurses rallied, spoke out and staged sit-in protests to end the costly crisis of understaffing and high turnover and to win a fair contract. They exposed the outrageous nurse vacancy rate caused by low pay and the unacceptable cost of filling the gaps with expensive temp travel nurse contracts, which were estimated to cost $589.9 million in 2022. NYSNA nurses believe this new contract will help save and strengthen the city’s public health system.
The New York State Nurses Association represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. NYSNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United, AFL-CIO, the country's largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses, with more than 225,000 members nationwide.