The Federation of Nurses/UFT reached a groundbreaking arbitration agreement on short staffing with NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn that for the first time required the hospital to pay nurses for working without sufficient staff.
Under the settlement, the hospital paid a total of $137,500 to approximately 250 nurses who worked on the short-staffed shifts covered by grievances filed in 2020 and 2021. In their Oct. 14 paychecks, affected nurses received payments ranging from approximately $100 to more than $2,000 based on the number of short-staffed shifts each nurse worked.
“Many of our colleagues in other hospitals — even those in other unions — do not have the right to grieve short staffing, let alone receive compensation for it,” said UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT. “This is an important moment for our union and our profession.”
The Federation of Nurses/UFT used the NYU Langone-UFT contract’s grievance and arbitration procedure to challenge the short-staffing issues in many units at the hospital, building on an arbitration victory in 2021 in which the arbitrator found short staffing to be in violation of the contract.
“After years of signing the short-staffing incident reports,” said Lena Nehrkorn, a registered nurse in the hospital’s Emergency Department for 10 years, “it shows we didn’t sign them for no reason, that somebody cares and is working to get us compensation for working harder.”
She said there was often a big influx of patients on short-staffed days. “When we’re short staffed, we have to run faster, we have more people waiting longer and the stress distracts you,” she said.
A single mom, Nehrkorn said she is “so very grateful” for the union’s efforts. “This unexpected, additional compensation is a blessing. I love my job, and if this ruling leads to a safer workplace, that’s a bonus.”
The agreement also calls for the hospital to meet with the union on or about March 31, 2023, to discuss any unresolved grievances.
“This settlement represents a huge step forward in the fight for safe and appropriate staffing,” Goldman said.