More than 700 nurses from two Northwell facilites in Peconic Bay and Long Island Jewish Valley Stream voted to go on strike. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp; NewsdayTV

More than 700 nurses at Northwell's Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital and Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead may go on strike if a contract dispute is not settled, their union said.

A strike authorization vote won support from 99% of the clinicians. That empowers the New York State Nurses Association to deliver a 10-day notice alerting Northwell that nurses may walk off the job, the union said Thursday.

The labor organization said it was continuing to negotiate with the New Hyde Park-based health system over compensation and staffing ratios.

In 2023, the New York State Nurses Association three times announced that nurses voted to authorize a strike at South Shore University Hospital, St. Charles Hospital and St. Catherine of Siena Hospital. All then reached agreements with their employers in time to avoid a work stoppage. The contract agreements came with double-digit wage increases over the course of three years, Newsday reported at the time.

Nurses did, however, strike in New York City at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx last year.

Dozens of nurses rallied outside the Valley Stream hospital as the results of the vote were announced. They said the facility's roughly 280 nurses must often care for more than six patients at once — despite the risks presented by higher nurse-patient ratios.

“It is impossible to manage so many patients, and it's simply not safe,” said Leesa John, who works in the radiology unit. “We cannot rely on management's good will. We need it in our contracts now.”

Nurses at Valley Stream want better pension benefits and at least a 19% pay increase over the next three years, said Sandra Marion-Armstrong, a registered nurse negotiating on behalf of her colleagues. Northwell has recently offered a 3% raise in the first year, followed by 3.5% and 4% bumps, she said.

The more than 440 nurses at Peconic Bay Medical Center have the lowest base salary of all nurses represented by the union on Long Island, NYSNA said. They're seeking more compensation in their next contract.

Northwell has spent months bargaining with the nurses, whose contract expired at the end of 2023, health system spokeswoman Barbara Osborn said.

“Our goal is to reach an agreement that continues to provide our valued nurses and allied professionals with competitive compensation and benefits and ensures a safe, supportive working environment that enables them to provide exceptional care,” she said in a statement. “We remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached."

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