Health care workers at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead...

Health care workers at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead ratified a new contract with Northwell Health on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Nurses and other employees at LIJ—Valley Stream and Peconic Bay Medical Center approved three-year contracts with average wage increases of 18% or more, their union announced Thursday.

Earlier this month, the New York State Nurses Association members authorized strikes that could have led to 700 health care workers walking off the job at the Valley Stream and Riverhead hospitals. A day before the potential strikes, nurses and colleagues voted to ratify agreements with Northwell Health, the New Hyde Park-based health system that operates the facilities. 

The contracts, which run through the end of 2026, improve staffing standards and mechanisms for enforcing them, offer better compensation and provide workers with greater say in infection-prevention efforts, NYSNA said. 

“NYSNA health care workers were ready to do whatever it takes to defend safe patient care for all communities across Long Island,” union president Nancy Hagans said in a statement. “These new contracts set a high standard on Long Island and everywhere for nurses, health care professionals, and our patients.”

The agreement at Peconic Bay covers about 400 people, including registered nurses, x-ray technicians, lab technicians, respiratory therapists and pharmacists, NYSNA said. Their wages will increase an average of 18 to 20% over three years, depending on individuals' titles and experience, the union said. The contract will also ensure that employees get meals and breaks.

At Long Island Jewish—Valley Stream, the union represents about 300 registered nurses, whose base pay will increase an average of 19.3% over the next three years under the contract, NYSNA said. 

At both hospitals, more than 85% of union members who voted opted to back the agreements, the labor organization said. Besides increased wages, the contracts lay out a quicker path to grievance meetings and arbitration when there are staffing level violations, the union said. The agreements also give union members a seat on committees that focus on preventing infections in the hospital. 

Northwell spokeswoman Barbara Osborn said the health system was pleased to have reached a deal with NYSNA.

“The agreement provides competitive compensation and benefits and reaffirms our commitment to our team members and delivering safe, high-quality care to our patients,” she said in a statement. 

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