South Shore University Hospital nurses approve a potential strike, as talks with Northwell continue
Nurses at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore have voted to authorize a strike, allowing them to deliver a 10-day notice if they decide to strike, their union said Friday.
The New York State Nurses Association union said the strike authorization was approved by 99% of the 722 nurses who cast ballots from Sunday through Friday. Negotiations are expected to continue next week, the union said.
The union said it has 790 members working at the Northwell Health hospital. The nurses’ contract expired Feb. 28. Talks have been under way for months, but the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on staffing levels and salaries, the union said.
"After months of negotiations, Northwell is still unwilling to listen to the nurses and deliver a contract that will help staff this hospital safely,” the NYSNA local president at South Shore, Chrysse Blau, said in a statement. "We don’t want to strike, but we will if Northwell gives us no choice."
In a news release by NYSNA, Blau and three other nurses at South Shore said they were worried about patients’ safety and their own well-being due to what they termed insufficient staffing. The nurses also are seeking salary increases similar to those won by nurses who went on strike in New York City, according to the union.
Arielle Shea, 31, a labor and delivery nurse at South Shore, said in an interview that at times patients need more individual attention, especially if they have high-risk pregnancies or they're very close to giving birth.
"Sometimes we're pulled in 10 different directions," she said. With more nurses working, she said, "we'd be able to give them the care that they deserve."
A spokeswoman for New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, Miriam Sholder, said in a statement, "We remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached and look forward to positive and productive negotiations next week. We are proud of the longstanding excellent care our dedicated nursing team provides and that our patients and community have come to trust."
The South Shore vote comes after NYSNA’s strike last month by some 7,000 nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center’s Bronx campus resulted in agreements that increased staffing by nurses and raised their salaries by 19% over three years. Also last month, a majority of the roughly 800 nurses at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside voted to join NYSNA, New York’s largest nurses' union with more than 42,000 members.