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Montefiore Did Not Inform New Union Hires of Their Right to Strike, Nurse Alleges

The allegation, which the medical center denies, came as the 7,000-member strike at Montefiore and Mount Sinai hospitals stretched into a second day.

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Montefiore Medical Center nurses on the picket line

Claudia Irizarry Aponte/THE CITY

Managers at Montefiore Medical Center did not inform seven recently hired nurses of their right to strike alongside their new colleagues, according to a nurse and former union official.

The seven nurses, who are under a probationary period observed for new hires, are dues-paying members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the union representing some 7,000 nurses across Montefiore and Mount Sinai hospitals who have been on strike since Monday morning. 

“We had a bunch of new hires, these were union positions. They came here to work today but we’re out on strike. Montefiore could have elected to inform them that they had the right — the legal right under federal law — to not be in there today and to be with us.

“Instead, they asked some of them to put on scrubs and start digging in without even giving them training,” Montefiore emergency room nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez said to those gathered — raising a chorus of boos in response — during a press conference in front of the hospital’s main campus on East 210th Street in The Bronx on Tuesday. 

“And so what we did — we heard about it, and our nurse warriors rescued them,”  said Sheridan-Gonzalez, a former NYSNA president. “Bottom line, to our new hires: We love you and we will take care of you and we will protect you and we will make sure that you practice safely.”

NYSNA lawyers are investigating the allegation, according to a union source not authorized to speak on the matter.

Montefiore spokesperson Joe Solmonese denied Sheridan-Gonzalez’s account in a statement: “This is factually inaccurate. We communicated their legal rights appropriately.”

‘Safe Staffing Saves Lives’

Hundreds of nurses showed up at the picket line and rally at Montefiore on Tuesday morning as they started their second consecutive day on strike over safe staffing standards and better pay.

The strikers were hopeful about talks between Montefiore and NYSNA. The parties continued bargaining Tuesday morning after resuming talks Monday afternoon. 

The nurses walked out of the job at 6 a.m. Monday morning after receiving Montefiore’s new offer that included 19.1% pay increases and a commitment to create over 170 new nursing positions — a number far lower than the union’s demands for safe staffing. The union claims there are more than 700 vacant nursing positions at Montefiore.

Montefiore Medical Center nurses in The Bronx went on strike for a second day,

Claudia Irizarry Aponte/THE CITY

“Montefiore remains at the bargaining table, committed to an equitable agreement that reflects the priorities of our dedicated nurses,” a Montefiore spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday morning after talks resumed. “Contingency plans remain in place to ensure our hospitals remain open, because Montefiore is, and always will be, here for The Bronx.”

Those contingency plans included hiring travel nurses and moving licensed practical nurses from the network’s other clinics to the hospital temporarily, THE CITY reported Monday.

Meanwhile, talks at Mount Sinai continue to stall — even though the hospital system and the union reached a deal at Mount Sinai’s Morningside and West campuses over the weekend, averting a strike at those facilities.

Nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside and West ratified their new three-year contract on Tuesday, with 70.2% of voters backing the deal.

At the Montefiore picket line on Tuesday, strikers were jubilant even as nurses said walking off the job was a difficult decision. 

Nurses led a call-and-response of “Safe staffing saves lives!” and “Every patient is a VIP!”

“This, for us, has been a very difficult moment. We should have never been brought here. If our institution would have bargained with us in good faith, we wouldn’t be here outside,” said Montefiore ICU nurse Michelle Gonzalez. 

“We want to be taking care of our communities — but give us the resources that we need to do that. That is all we are asking,” Gonzalez said. “We need more nurses and we are all tired, we are all working hard, and we cannot continue to work like this.”

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