A potential strike was averted when registered nurses at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, two hospitals in the Catholic Health System of Long Island, approved new contracts, their union said Thursday.
The agreements with hospital managements follow the nurses’ Oct. 18 vote to authorize strikes at both facilities, according to a news release from the New York State Nurses Association, the state’s largest union for registered nurses. The contract with St. Catherine nurses was ratified Oct. 28 and the contract with St. Charles nurses was ratified Wednesday.
Among the terms reached are an increase in nursing staff for shifts at both hospitals, as well as enhanced health benefits and a 3 percent wage increase, the union said. The contracts run for three years and expire in 2019.
The 650 nurses at the two hospitals had been working under expired contracts as negotiations continued for more than a year when the strike authorizations were approved, according to an October release from the union.
The nurses sought a contract that enforces adequate staffing for patient care and health benefits and pay needed to help recruit and retain skilled health care workers at the hospitals, the association said.
The nurses had presented contract proposals to management and negotiations continued, the release said.
No specific strike dates had been determined.
Leaders of both hospitals “are pleased to have reached a fair settlement with our nurses,” a statement from Catholic Health Services said. “We would like to commend all involved who worked hard to reach this agreement.”