Trainee doctors at the public H+H/Elmhurst Hospital in Queens ended their three-day strike and returned to work on Wednesday morning, after reaching a tentative agreement with Mount Sinai Health System.
The proposed deal includes 18% raises over three years, reaching pay parity with their non-union peers at Mount Sinai’s flagship private East Side campus.
The agreement, which is pending a ratification vote, means that more than 150 doctors will return to work starting at 7 a.m. Thursday, Mount Sinai said. The doctors, who are members of the Committee of Interns and Residents-SEIU, had been on strike since Monday morning in what was the first strike by doctors in New York City since 1990.
While the doctors work at Elmhurst Hospital, part of the public Health + Hospitals system, their residency program is operated by Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, where non-union residents who work at Mount Sinai’s main hospital get paid about $7,000 a year more than their unionized colleagues. The tentative agreement reached on Wednesday closes that gap, the union announced.
“Getting a multi-billion-dollar revenue employer like Mount Sinai to move this far really shows what our movement as residents can achieve — even up against the most flagrant union busting and profit-driven corporations,” Dr. Sarah Hafuth, a first-year psychiatry resident, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Mount Sinai will now have to think twice about leaving Elmhurst behind and perpetuating these disparities for union doctors in the future,” she added.
Pact Followed Clashes
The doctors and Mount Sinai had been in contract negotiations for 10 months before walking out of the job on Monday.
Upon ratification, the doctors will get 18% raises over three years retroactive to November 2022, a $2,000 ratification bonus, an enforceable agreement to negotiate on hazard pay in the event of a future public health emergency, a meal allowance on par with their nonunion colleagues and other benefits. The contract will expire on June 30, 2025.
“We are pleased that Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with the support of the NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation reached a tentative agreement with CIR. The proposed agreement is fair, responsible, and puts patients and resident’s educational training first,” Mount Sinai spokesperson Lucia Lee said in a statement on Wednesday.
Icahn School of Medicine sent clinicians from other facilities to work at Elmhurst during the strike. The city Health + Hospitals Corporation mobilized clinicians from other public facilities to assist, and remaining doctors at the hospital picked up additional shifts.
“NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst is happy to welcome the resident physicians back to work. This tentative agreement is a win for them, our patients, and the Elmhurst community who rely on the hospital for compassionate, high-quality care,” Health + Hospitals spokesperson Christopher Miller said in a statement on Wednesday.
Tensions between Mount Sinai and the residents’ union had been boiling for months before the strike.
The union filed four unfair labor practice complaints against Mount Sinai in the months and days leading up to the work stoppage. On Sunday, the union submitted a charge alleging Mount Sinai engaged in impermissible “direct dealing” with the residents rather than speaking only with their union’s bargaining committee and negotiators.
On Monday, the union filed another charge against Mount Sinai for allegedly calling police officers to remove picketing doctors from the public sidewalk in front of the hospital. The police eventually left without making arrests, a union official said, and Mount Sinai denied any involvement.
Those charges follow ones this past December, and again in February, alleging that Mount Sinai “refused to bargain in good faith with the union,” which remain under investigation by the board.
The union also sought $300 weekly hazard pay in the event of another public health emergency like COVID. On Wednesday, the union announced it had reached “an enforceable agreement to negotiate on hazard pay” as part of its tentative agreement with the hospital.
The Elmhurst physicians aren’t the only residents demanding more pay from Mount Sinai: On Monday, 99% of nearly 500 medical residents at Mount Sinai Morningside and West campuses in Manhattan authorized a potential strike.