NEW YORK - The 9,000 public sector nurses of the New York City Health and Hospitals system say they’re, "Ready to fight."
They’re kicking off a campaign, begging the city to negotiate a new contract.
"It’s reached a crisis point, and there’s no other way but to shout from the hilltops," said Sean Petty, a nurse at the city’s Jacobi Hospital.
Public sector nurses say it's even more important they get a new contract in the wake of the recent success of private sector nurses who went on strike at Montefiore and Mount Sinai.
The new private sector contract makes the pay disparity even greater.
According to the New York State Nurse’s Association, public-sector nurses now make an average of $19,000 less than private-sector ones.
In addition to pay equity, public nurses are also demanding safe staffing levels.
Sonia Lawrence a nurse at Lincoln Hospital says, "We are putting the city on notice that we are not gonna take it anymore.
Shahana Hanif, a city council member, says the work nurses did during COVID-19 and after the city’s recovery, plus the work they’re doing now to assist the recent influx of asylum seekers, should be more than enough to justify their demands.
Because of New York law, public sector unions are prohibited from striking but the nurses' union and city council members supporting them say acts of civil disobedience are not out of the question.
The public sector nurses’ contract expires on March 2, 2023.
Negotiations have not yet begun, though a spokesperson from NYC Health and Hospitals says they will begin likely prior to the contract expiration date.
They add that they are, "Grateful for the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice our highly-skilled nurses make every day."