The Federation of Nurses/UFT on Feb. 27 overwhelmingly ratified a two-year contract with NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn that increases salaries, rewards experience and specialty training, and enriches staffing, the top priority for many of the 900 nurses in the chapter.
“Staffing was No. 1,” said Susan McNiff, a nurse in the Observation Unit. “My unit happens to be staffed well but they float us to units that aren’t, which then makes my unit not staffed well. When we have too many patients per nurse, the quality of care diminishes.”
Staffing has been increased based on patients’ acuity and on the nursing unit where they will be cared for, said Anne Goldman, the UFT vice president for non-DOE members who led the negotiations.
The agreement, effective Feb. 29, provides for a base salary increase of 3% effective on March 1, followed by increases of 2.5% on March 1, 2021, and 0.5% on Sept. 1, 2021. It protects the funding level for the nurses’ no-premium health benefit plan, and their pension benefit remains intact. New contractual language protects the right of nurses to transfer to or be educated for different units within the hospital.
The contract offers an experience differential for the first time since 2007 and the clinical specialty differential is increased by 7% over the life of the contract. Parental leave is extended to spouses and domestic partners and now includes adoption of a child.
Most important, said Goldman, “We showed the hospital our leadership as a union to let them see they can’t succeed without us. They need to celebrate their nurses.”
NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn continues to be recognized for outstanding patient care. For the first time, NYU Langone will receive Magnet status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for its Nurse Residency Program. This prestigious honor has only been earned by the hospital’s Brooklyn campus.
“There’s a long list of accolades and awards and it’s because of this incredibly talented union workforce,” Goldman said.
Voting at the Sunset Park hospital, the nurses were of one mind on the importance of improved staffing.
Andrew Otero works in a Rehabilitation Unit he says is properly staffed on his day shift, but night shift nurses care for six patients and sometimes seven or eight, considered unsafe ratios.
“If somebody has too many patients, at some point something has to give,” Otero said. “I’m not the type of person to sacrifice patient care, so I wind up staying longer, I’m more tired, I’m more burned out.”
Emergency Room nurse Lauren Scafiddi said the problem intensifies in winter. “A lot more people get sick and a lot more patients get admitted,” she said. “When they don’t have room upstairs, we hold them in the ER, where we don’t have enough staff to begin with. It becomes unsafe for us and unsafe for patients. We just want to provide the best care we can.”
Lorena Modesto, a Post-Anesthesia Care Unit nurse whose parents emigrated from Mexico where they had no workers’ rights, said she gets emotional “just to know I am part of this negotiating team where we are protecting our rights and our work conditions and providing safety to our patients.”