New York State Nurses Association nurses and healthcare workers at Peconic Bay Medical Center reached a tentative contract agreement with the hospital’s parent company, Northwell Health, on Thursday after a marathon bargaining session. If union members vote to ratify the contract on Tuesday, Feb. 20, they will avoid a strike authorized to begin Feb. 21.

According to NYSNA, the agreement “includes improvements to safe staffing standards, stronger and expedited safe staffing enforcement, protection of NYSNA health and pension benefits, and major wage increases.” 

“Our NYSNA negotiating committee worked hard on this tentative agreement and are proud of the safe staffing improvements and the fact that it will take us from some of the lowest paid healthcare workers on Long Island to being competitive with other hospitals,” said PBMC Local President and Southeastern Regional Director Chris Honor (RN, BSN, CAPA). “That will help us hire and retain enough nurses to provide quality care — our Number One goal as nurses and healthcare professionals. We are 100 percent in solidarity with our union siblings at LIJ Valley Stream, who deserve respect and a fair contract, too.” 

The union says it will release more details about the agreement if it is ratified by members.

After a Feb. 1 vote in which 99.5 percent of its 700 members at PBMC and LIJ/Valley Stream agreed to authorize a strike, the union said that pay at Peconic Bay Medical Center “stands out as the lowest-paid on Long Island. The low starting rate makes recruiting and retaining enough nurses and healthcare professionals a challenge and has led to high turnover and understaffing.”

Nurses at Long Island Jewish/Valley Stream were also negotiating with Northwell on Thursday but said they were unable to reach a tentative agreement.

The union said the hospital rejected their proposed wage increases at Valley Stream and said the workers and community were “characteristically different.”

Northwell Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We know exactly what they mean when Northwell administrators use that kind of language because we have heard it before. They used to say ‘demographics,’ and now they are saying ‘characteristically different,'” said Sandra Armstrong, RN, a nurse leader at LIJ Valley Stream. “Our nursing community and the patients we serve are very diverse. We have more people of color working at LIJ Valley Stream than in other Northwell hospitals, and the community we serve has more people of color and low-income patients. So that’s why Northwell won’t deliver safe staffing and fair pay here?”

The union said Northwell also threatened to lock union nurses out if they strike on Feb. 21, and it is filing unfair labor practice charges in response.

“Congratulations to our members at Peconic Bay, who fought hard for the safe staffing and fair wages they deserve,” said NYSNA President Nancy Hagans. “Now it’s time for Northwell to come to the table and deliver a fair contract for our Nassau County nurses and patients. Nurses and patients everywhere deserve safe staffing and fair wages to ensure quality care — regardless of zip code, regardless of race, income, immigration status, or any other characteristic…. NYSNA is ready to bargain at any time.” 


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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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