MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine consulate in New York on Monday, January 9, expressed its support for the Filipino-American nurses who joined a strike in New York over pay and staffing issues.
The walkout involved more than 7,000 nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, according to the New York State Nurses Association. A report from GMA News said around 1,000 Filipino nurses were affected by the work stoppage due to the strike.
“The Philippine Consulate General in New York supports the clamor of Filipino-American nurses, employed in Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, for better wages and working conditions,” the consulate said in a statement posted Tuesday, January 10 (Manila time).
“When New York City became the epicenter of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, our kababayan nurses stayed true to their oath to care for the sick and the dying, sometimes at the expense of their very own lives. For their compassion, dedication, and selflessness, their call for better employment terms and conditions should be heeded,” the consulate added.
The COVID-19 pandemic, compounded with a respiratory syncytial virus outbreak and flu season, has put a strain on the healthcare sector across the United States’ most populous city, creating tensions between nurses and their employers.
“We look forward to a mutually acceptable resolution to the strike and hope that all dispute resolution avenues be exhausted to ensure the healthcare of New Yorkers and the recognition of the indispensable role of our nurses who are at the forefront of patient care,” the Philippine consulate said.
On Monday morning, nurses rallied outside the two hospitals, chanting “Every patient is a VIP” and waving signs in support of hiring more nurses and better pay.
“What we are asking for is for safe staffing and quality care for patients. We don’t think we are asking for too much,” said New York State Nurses Association President Nancy Hagan.
In separate statements on Monday, the hospitals said they offered a 19.1% compounded wage increase to the nurses. Montefiore Medical Center also committed to creating over 170 new nursing positions.
On Sunday, January 8, nurses at Mount Sinai Morningside and West reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that included improved staffing standards and enforcement, and increased salaries over the next three years, the union said.
According to a September 2020 report from Business Insider, Filipinos comprised 4% of nurses in the US, but almost a third of nurse deaths due to COVID-19, at 31.5%.
The Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative found that Philippine-trained registered nurses make up a disproportionate amount of frontline workers, and have a higher likelihood of infection. – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com