ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Nurses Association and Albany Medical Center now confirm nurses voted to ratify a new contract that offers them a stronger voice in patient care, as well as union and financial security. Nurses spent all of Wednesday and Thursday until 9:30 p.m. and voted with a 97% YES result.

This marks the first contract for nurses since the hospital unionized in 2018 and the only such employment agreement in the institution’s 182 years in service.

Highlights of the contract (as provided by NYSNA):

  • A safe staffing grid that outlines safe staffing numbers for every unit and shift in the facility and will serve as a template for all future staffing negotiations under the new hospital staffing committee law that NYSNA championed.  
  • Gives nurses a greater voice in work roles, including regular scheduling and defined breaks, limitations on floating, and limitations on performing non-nursing functions that impede the ability to provide quality care. 
  • Respects nurses’ professional practice, experience, and commitment by granting pay differentials for cardiac, ECLS, Float Pool, Charge Nurse/Team Leader, and weekend shifts. Also increases educational benefits. Many differentials have been increased greatly from pre-union levels. 
  • Financial security through an immediate across-the-board $2.30/hour wage increase, resulting in a 4-9% base pay increase for all nurses. Per Diem nurses will receive an immediate 10% increase. 
  • In addition to this immediate major bump in pay upon ratification, all nurses will receive 3% annual increases via guaranteed and merit raises. As a leading employer in the Capital Region and one with a history of colluding with other healthcare providers to suppress the pay of nurses, NYSNA is excited about the immediate economic impact the new contract will have for AMC members and the potential it has to lift standards for non-union nurses across the region, who deserve a union, too.  
  • There will be a joint redesign and expansion of the clinical practice pay ladder, which will allow many more nurses to gain professional experience and pay.  
  • Establishes a Labor Management Committee that meets regularly to ensure nurses’ voices are heard and provides an opportunity to get ahead of issues and attempts to resolve problems of common concern. Also establishes the employer’s first workplace violence plan. 
  • Both parties agree to follow all health and safety laws and promote a safe work environment. Issues related to health and safety and pandemic preparedness will be addressed at labor management as needed. AMC nurses will use this new language to ensure the safety of Capital Region patients as New York continues to confront COVID variants.  

Dr. Dennis McKenna, Albany Med CEO, maintains negotiators committed to passing only a contract that was “fair and fiscally responsible”. All existing and incoming nurses throughout the contract’s three-year term will have the choice whether to join the union or not, but will receive the same contract benefits regardless of membership. He also says all current union members will have to recertify their participation in the union.