Lifespan hospital nurses petition execs for pay bump

Nurses at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence are urging the hospital's owner, Lifespan, to increase their salaries, according to The Boston Globe.

United Nurses & Allied Professionals, which represents thousands of nurses employed with the hospital, made the plea in a petition delivered to hospital executives Aug. 31.

The petition states that the union contract allows for wage scale adjustments based on labor market conditions and that Lifespan has used this provision previously to boost salaries of certain job classifications.

Specifically, United Nurses & Allied Professionals points to a provision of the collective bargaining agreement that reads: "It is understood that employee salary levels are minimums and may be increased by the hospital to reflect marketplace conditions after notice and upon requested discussion with the union."

"What this language means is that the union and the hospital agreed all the wage scales in the contract are minimums and that if marketplace conditions (such as a healthcare worker shortage) change to require an increase, all Lifespan has to do is notify and discuss with the UNAP the wage increases — and then simply make the increases," the union wrote. "Needless to say, the hospital is not going to use the above quoted, already bargained over language to increase UNAP members wages despite problems in hiring and retaining workers and despite marketplace conditions requiring an increase in wages at RIH."

In a statement shared with Becker's, Lifespan spokesperson Kathleen Hart said the organization provides nurses and technical professionals "with a highly competitive wage and benefits package" and "is committed to demonstrating the high value we place on all of our employees."

She also said Lifespan recognizes these extremely difficult times for healthcare workers and has developed generous incentive plans for nurses and other clinical support workers via enhanced overtime pay and cash bonuses for working extra hours.

"We are engaged in active, ongoing discussions with our union leaders about a wage and benefit enhancement package and look forward to bringing these future negotiations to a successful conclusion. We remain committed to investing in a sustainable plan over the long term that recognizes the value and important work of our vital caregivers," said Ms. Hart.

As of Sept. 1, more than 2,000 people had signed the petition.

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