Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an agreement Wednesday to boost overtime pay at three state university-run hospitals in an effort to stem staff shortages amid the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
Nurses and other medical staff at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Upstate University hospitals will be eligible for double time and a half OT per hour. Normally overtime pay is time and half per hour.
The agreement says 7,637 medical staffers at the three SUNY hospitals are eligible for more generous overtime.
The announced hike in OT — effective through at least the end of the year — comes as the coronavirus mandate for health care workers goes into effect next Monday. Unvaccinated nurses and other front-line hospital employees face suspensions or potential firings if they don’t comply.
Hochul’s team is negotiating with the same labor unions representing state-run hospitals on how to implement the vaccine edict. She also said Wednesday she’s looking at recruiting foreign workers to replace unvaccinated staffers.
“New York State’s health care heroes have worked tirelessly and put their lives on the line throughout this terrible pandemic, and they should be compensated properly for their efforts,” Hochul said.
“This vital agreement will increase overtime pay for our overworked health care professionals at SUNY hospitals and help to recognize them for their public service. We owe healthcare professionals and hospital employees that have kept the doors open an enormous debt of gratitude for their work during this pandemic and this will move New York a small step in the right direction on compensation.”
Funding for the overtime will be provided from the hospitals’ operating revenue.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said the OT boost will help with staff retention at the hospitals.
“We have staffing challenges. It’s been a long haul,” Malatras said, referring to the 18-month pandemic.
“Our SUNY medical and hospital staff have been on the frontlines bravely battling the COVID crisis since the beginning and still continue their tireless and heroic fight every day for the patients they serve and we must do all we can to retain our workforce. The healthcare heroes at our hospitals represent the very best of SUNY and with this overtime increase, we will continue to send a strong message of our deep commitment to our healthcare workers.”
He thanked Hochul for stepping in to help broker an accord with SUNY hospital leadership and the unions representing medical staffers — the Public Employees Federation and Civil Service Employees Association.
Northwell Health and some other private hospitals last year provided bonuses or “hazard pay” to their medical staffers for toiling through the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
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