Hospitals & Facilities

Staten Island University Hospital’s nurses authorize strike

The union representing the nurses is seeking higher wages and improved patient-staff ratios in its next contract.
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Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) nurses authorized a strike on Wednesday over pay and understaffing issues, according to the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the union that represents almost 1,300 nurses at the Northwell Health-run facility.

The union is seeking salary hikes, improved employee benefits, and smaller nurse-to-patient ratios; the latter has been a rallying cry for nurses around the country in its next three-year contract. The current contract expires on March 31, at a time when nurses are leaving the hospital for better pay, according to NYSNA.

“Instead of making changes to support and retain its nurses, Northwell continues to ask us to do more with less,” Shayna Lehrer, an SIUH nurse, said in a statement. “I live on Staten Island. I was born here. This is my community. I don’t want to have to leave the island for work.”

Pay increases sit at the top of what the nurses want from a new contract.

The nurses are seeking a 12% pay increase in 2024 and a 10% increase in 2025, according to ABC7.

NYSNA also highlighted understaffing—which can threaten the quality of care for patients—as a key issue that SIUH must address in the next contract.

For example, NYSNA said that the hospital eliminated some pharmacists from the hospital staff, making tasks for nurses—such as medication retrieval—take longer, delaying nurse care.

Understaffing at SIUH “makes it impossible to provide the level of care [the] patients deserve,” according to NYSNA.

The approaching contract expiration comes after Northwell announced a $19.2 billion merger last month with Connecticut-based healthcare system Nuvance Health, which would expand Northwell’s footprint to 28 hospitals, 14,500 providers, and nearly 100,000 employees, according to Fierce Healthcare.

“We see how much money they spend on advertising, on corporate mergers, on making their buildings look nice,” Adriana DeLeon, an SIUH nurse, said in a statement. “How can they invest in all that without investing in the very people that make this hospital work?”

Northwell reported $135 million in operating income with a 1.1% operating margin between January and September 2023, Fierce Healthcare found.

In a statement emailed to Healthcare Brew, SIUH spokesperson Jillian O’Hara said that the hospital is bargaining “in good faith to reach a fair successor contract” with NYSNA.

The potential strike comes after other NYSNA-represented workforces pushed for similar contract conditions.

Last month, NYSNA-represented nurses at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital, another Northwell hospital, secured a new contract with a 19.3% average wage increase over three years after voting to strike.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.