Ascension nurses in Illinois plan strike

Members of the Illinois Nurses Association plan to begin a two-day strike Aug. 22 at Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet (Ill.). 

Union members voted to authorize a strike in July, according to an INA news release shared with Becker's. The union and hospital have been in negotiations for three months.

During negotiations, nurses have "organized around deteriorating conditions at the hospital including equipment failures and increasingly dangerous understaffing. This regular understaffing endangers patients, and violates state law and the terms of the contract," the union release states.

The union also contends that Ascension "has been hiring nurses, excluding them from the union, and paying them wages at or above those that union nurses have been demanding at the table."

Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet, part of St. Louis-based Ascension, issued a news release Aug. 14 saying the hospital has been bargaining in good faith with the union and affirms the right of workers to organize, but it is disappointed that the union decided to proceed with a two-day strike.

"Patient safety is our top priority," the hospital release said. "We have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure there is no disruption in care or service for those we are privileged to serve."

The hospital said that plan includes contracting with a staffing agency to provide access to replacement nurses.

The hospital also said it is contractually required to commit to a minimum of four days of work for any registered nursing staff replaced, starting from the first day of a strike. This means Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet represented registered nurses will be temporarily replaced starting Aug. 22 and will be able to return to their scheduled shifts beginning the morning of Aug. 26, when the contract obligation is fulfilled.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 1:10 p.m. CDT on Aug. 14. 

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