Nurses are understaffed, underpaid, and overworked. Yet despite being a critical element in an industry of vital public interest, nurses are constantly overlooked and overshadowed by large companies. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) believes that current employment circumstances for nurses are only set to worsen by 2030 if no compromises are made. The standards being adapted for nurse employment today are no longer sustainable in this economy.
However, there is still hope. Following weeks of tedious negotiation, nurses in New York have recently made history in a landmark agreement between unions and hospitals to address work conditions. The New York Times have reported a four-year contract between nurses and hospital systems of Mount Sinai, New York-Presbyterian and Montefiore, some of the larger names in the state. This collective bargaining agreement provides for (1) annual pay raises of 3 percent, (2) filling 800 vacant jobs, and (3) allocating $25 million a year for the employment of additional nurses.
While the collective bargaining agreement may be limited only to those three hospitals, the endeavor highlights the growing concerns of nursing shortages as well as the apparent power of the labor force to demand better work conditions. Not only that, but this event can be a precedent to setting a national standard for nurse-to-patient ratios (which is still a hotly debated topic despite the bargaining agreement).
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