Alaska hospital CEO slams 'ill-timed' strike notice amid coronavirus pandemic

The CEO of Providence Kodiak Island (Alaska) Medical Center penned a letter in the Kodiak Daily Mirror March 12 expressing her concerns about a potential strike amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers at Providence have announced their plan to strike beginning March 20.

In her letter, CEO Gina Bishop, RN, PhD, said the hospital is preparing for worst-case scenario regarding the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and is "deeply disappointed" about the strike plans.

"By calling this ill-timed strike, I believe the union is demonstrating a lack of concern for the public health and the well-being of our community," wrote Dr. Bishop.

But a representative of the Alaska Medical Employees Association, which represents about 200 workers at the hospital, said the strike notice was given after the hospital insisted on cutting sick leave benefits.

"It's always a good idea to stay home when you are sick. When a pandemic is coming, it's an even better idea. This is the worst possible time for Providence to cut this benefit," Genevieve Cook told the Daily Mirror"We recognize this is inconvenient timing for a strike. AMEA would love to avoid going on strike, especially at a time when a healthcare crisis is looming." 

The March 10 strike announcement comes more than one year after the permanent contract between Providence and the union expired. There have been some short-term extensions, and the most recent extension ended Oct. 31.


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