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ECMC nurses approve new five-year contract that includes raises and a signing bonus

Erie County Medical Center Corporation nurses ratified a new, five-year contract that runs through 2027. It includes a $250 signing bonus.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Erie County Medical Center Corporation announced that nurses at the hospital ratified a new five-year contract which runs through December 31, 2027.

"That's a huge win for us," registered nurse Lona DeNisco told 2 On Your Side.  She's one of the 1,365 nurses who are represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at ECMC.  The union represents 42,000 nurses statewide.

Now that nurses have ratified the contract, they will receive a 4.75 percent wage increase this year and a $250 signing bonus.  Wages will also increase by 4.25 percent over the next three years and 4 percent in 2027.

DeNisco says another big win for the union was making sure ECMC adheres to staffing requirements which call for the hospital to have one nurse for every two intensive care patients.  

The new staffing law that determined those ratios took into effect in January of 2022 and is enforced by the state's Department of Health.  

DeNisco says it's about holding state legislators and regulatory boards "accountable" and keeping them within the new law's framework, which requires one nurse for every two intensive care unit patients.

"We have consistently been let down by governing bodies in general, and I think that legislation, as much as we have pushed it, they don't have the same urgency as the people that are actually in the workforce," DeNisco said.

The new contract comes on the heels of a September 2022 "speak out" by dozens of ECMC nurses that called attention to the unsafe staffing and working conditions they faced.

Contract negotiations were started in that same month, and another speak-out was held on May 31 of this year with similar demands, citing the need for a fair contract, investment in recruitment and retention efforts, and workplace safety.

"We finally ratified our contract after the vote last night, which is huge because we've been doing this for nine months," DeNisco said.

ECMC, Western New York's largest hospital, is a New York State public-benefit corporation and has 19 board members. Eight are appointed by the Governor of New York, seven are appointed by the County Executive, and four are non-voting directors. Thomas Quatroche Jr., Ph.D. is President and CEO

"This contract recognizes the hard work and dedication of ECMC registered nurses," Quatroche Jr. said in a press release. 

Other gains for nurses in the new contract include workplace safety measures such as a new weapons screening technology at all public entrances, additional programs to train new nurses to stimulate hiring, and extra pay whenever the hospital does not have adequate staffing ratios.

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