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Mount Sinai Eye and Ear nurses insist on pay parity

Also call to keep the infirmary open amid closure plans


Nurses at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai called on the health care system to settle a contract that provides them with pay equal to what nurses earned at other Sinai facilities,  and to keep the infirmary open.

Last fall, Mount Sinai officials announced plans to close the Beth Israel facility in Lower Manhattan. Although the hospital was slated to be shuttered in July, the state Department of Health rejected Sinai’s closure plan in April, stating that it was incomplete. 

Nurses at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, located a few blocks away from Beth Israel, are now urging Mount Sinai to ensure that the infirmary will remain open and safely staffed. Members of the New York State Nurses Association rallied Tuesday in front of the infirmary to demand a contract that provides them with pay parity and job security.

“Since Sinai took over, they have pushed services away, pushed doctors away and now, they’re pushing nurses away. But we want to stay,” said John Paul Montemayor, the bargaining unit president at the Eye and Ear Infirmary who has worked there for seven years.

Advocates, who also slammed the plan to close Beth Israel, noted that services have been cut at the eye and ear hospital in recent years, including on-site radiology.

“We’ve watched the intentional destruction of Beth Israel for over a decade now and we’ve seen that they’ve been doing the same thing here at this hospital,” Mark Hannay, the director of Metro New York Health Care for All, who is also coordinating the Save Beth Israel and New York Eye and Ear Campaign. “Our suspicion is that they want to close down both facilities and sell the real estate.”

The hospital system submitted a new closure plan for Beth Israel two weeks ago, according to Hannay. 

Teresa Moriarty, who has worked as a nurse at NY Eye and Ear for 17 years, said that retaining nurses has been difficult. “Conditions have gotten worse because when nurses leave, Sinai refuses to replace them,” she said. 

'Real' nurses

Not helping matters is that nurses at the facility are paid less than nurses at other Mount Sinai facilities, according to the union. Nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside and West won a contract that included 19-percent raises in January 2023, as did nurses at Mount Sinai Hospital following a three-day strike.

“When we asked for pay parity, we’ve been told that we’re not real nurses because we don’t work in a real hospital. If we aren’t real nurses, who is working in the building then?” she asked.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mount Sinai said “The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is negotiating in good faith with the goal of reaching an agreement that honors our skilled nurses and ensures that patients receive excellent care. Thanks to our nurses and the NYEE community for their patience as we work toward a resolution.”

The contract, which covers about 60 nurses, expired April 30, but Sinai’s management has been “dragging their feet” to reach an agreement, Moriarty noted. She called for transparency regarding the infirmary workers’ job security.

“We don’t provide lower quality care, so we don’t deserve lower quality treatment and respect. Infirmary nurses deserve the same treatment and respect as Mount Sinai main, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Morningside and West,” Montemayor said. “We are asking for a fair contract now.”

Bernadette Maliwat, who works at the infirmary and has been a nurse for 37 years, noted that Sinai relied on the eye and ear clinic during the pandemic. “During Covid when elective surgeries stopped, we were deployed to give high quality care to sister locations of Mount Sinai,” she noted.

Several elected officials spoke out in support of the infirmary’s nurses, including Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, who said the nurses “deserve to be compensated fairly for their labor.” 

“Additionally, we must halt any efforts to remove services from this vital medical center in our neighborhood. Our community and the nurses that serve it deserve better,” he continued.

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said in a statement that “With so much still up in the air regarding the upcoming closure of Mount Sinai Beth Israel it is imperative that all workers employed by the hospital are treated fairly.”


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