Ascension nurses in Illinois begin strike

Nurses at Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet (Ill.), who are members of the Illinois Nurses Association, began a four-day strike Feb. 8, marking their third strike in the last year.

The hospital, which is part of St. Louis-based Ascension, and the union, which represents about 500 nurses at the facility, have been in negotiations since May. 

A strike was called for this month after the hospital implemented language the union rejected, according to an INA news release shared with Becker's. At the time, the union cited concerns about certain non-monetary terms and conditions of employment.

"The employer claims that an impasse had been reached in negotiations, though the union has communicated willingness to negotiate," the release stated.

Union members said they delivered new proposals at the latest negotiation session Feb. 5 and that "the willingness of both parties to meet and exchange language puts the employer's claim of impasse in question. The union has maintained since December that there was plenty of movement that both sides were still able to make." 

Ascension shared a statement with Becker's, saying that while the hospital implemented its last, best and final offer in January, the hospital bargaining team agreed to meet with the union Feb. 5, per the INA's request.

"Discussions proceeded throughout much of the day," the statement said. "Unfortunately, INA's wage proposal continues to not be aligned with Joliet market rates, and we remain far apart in this space. 

"Our best and final offer is a mutually beneficial solution that provides our nurses a fair and equitable contract, and ensures our community continues to receive access to the quality care they expect from Saint Joseph-Joliet. We know that our nurses and their union representatives share the same goal with all of us at Saint Joseph-Joliet — providing safe, quality healthcare to those we are privileged to serve.

"In the meantime, Saint Joseph-Joliet is fully prepared to remain open and care for our patients during the short-term INA strike."

Union members also went on strike in November and August. The latest strike is scheduled to end Feb. 11.


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