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New Rochelle nurses threaten to strike over poor conditions

Posted at 7:17 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 19:17:24-05

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital have voted to strike and have given staff their 10-day notice.

As we start to enter a second round of COVID-19 surges, they need help and they’re going to walk as early as Dec. 1 if they don’t get more staff and better working conditions.

Nurse Melissa Ricketts voted in favor of the strike.

“We definitely need more staff, we stay late every night, skip our breaks regularly," said Ricketts. "We still feel like we’re lucky we got through the day without anything going terribly wrong. My fear is that we are not going to get any staffing to be able to take care of the patients.”

She’s not alone. Nurses in New Rochelle and the Bronx, and members of the NYS Nurses Association took to the streets Thursday .. pleading for more healthcare workers and medical supplies, and, better wages and benefits.

They gathered outside Montefiore Moses in the Bronx, and marched to Woodlawn Cemetery.

“New Rochelle was ground zero in New York State and we didn’t think twice to do what we needed for the community,” said Kathy Santoiemma. “We should not be here today, we've been here already. We saw the worst, lost loved ones. Why are nurses not being supported when they know what’s coming?”

Workers say they’ve been fighting for a fairer contact for two years, even before the pandemic. A key issue is adding staffing at the hospital, as they say there is one nurse for every nine patients on the medical and surgery floors and one for every three patients in the ICU.

“We’re just trying to get a fair contract that allows us to do our job,” said Ricketts.

Hospital staff told PIX11 News that a letter was sent out to nurses last month, offering a pay raise despite losing about $50 million in the last 20 months.

“It’s disgraceful that NYSNA leadership is threatening a strike after being offered over 7% in salary increases during a pandemic when hospitals and individuals are struggling financially,” said the letter.

Still nurses say it’s not enough and a strike is the last thing they want to do, especially now, but they have to, not only for them, but for the survival of their patients.

Nurses say a contract deal doesn’t need to be met to avoid a strike, they just want to start talking and start the negotiation.