Members of the Federation of Nurses/UFT at Staten Island University Hospital South have overwhelmingly ratified a contract that includes their top priorities: an increased nurse-to-patient ratio and preservation of their UFT Healthcare Chapter Benefit Fund benefits.
Under the new contract, more than 14 nurses will be added to the staff and four additional nurses will be hired for per diem work.
Nurses currently in the Healthcare Fund will remain in the Fund and those who work full time will retain their no-premium benefits, while part-time nurses will make pro-rated contributions to the Fund.
“We are pleased that we were again able to protect our nurses’ hard-fought benefits while improving the issue of staffing to provide appropriate patient care in a safe and efficient manner,” said Anne Goldman, the UFT vice president for non-DOE members and the head of the Federation of Nurses/UFT.
The contract also includes a 9.27 percent compounded raise over the life of the three-year contract. The first 3 percent wage hike kicked in on April 1, with additional 3 percent increases taking effect on April 1, 2020, and on April 1, 2021. Wages for per diem nurses were raised 5 percent on April 1, and will increase 3 percent on April 1, 2020, and on April 1, 2021.
The new contract restores an essential 24-hour pharmacy at the hospital, enhances supply management and includes improvements to computer equipment and programming.
“This contract will enable our nurses to better deliver quality patient care,” said Nancy Barth-Miller, the chapter leader at Staten Island University Hospital South and a member of the negotiating committee.
Safety was also an issue, brought to light in part after two nurses were assaulted by patients in the hospital’s emergency room in 2017. Both attackers were sentenced to jail under the state’s 2010 Violence against Nurses law that, after years of lobbying by the UFT, made it a felony to assault an on-duty registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.
The hospital has instituted new procedures for screening hospital visitors, with barriers being installed at entrances, and there will be a detailed armed officer on duty 24/7 in the Emergency Department.
In spite of a big push by union negotiators to have all nurses covered under the Healthcare Fund, those hired in 2017 and later at the hospital, which is part of the Northwell Health system, will remain covered under the Northwell Health Plan. Approximately 10 percent of the nursing staff is affected.