Howard University Hospital workers striking April 11

Workers at Washington, D.C.-based Howard University Hospital plan to strike April 11 for 24 hours, according to news station WTTG.

The workers are members of the District of Columbia Nurses Association, which represents more than 300 workers at the hospital and the university, including registered nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and social workers.

In an April 1 news release, the union said workers are striking "to demand a fair contract and safe staffing to protect patients."

The release cited cuts to shift differentials that union leaders say, "will reduce nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and social workers' compensation and negatively affect retention at the hospital." Union leaders also contend that nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals have been working understaffed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It really comes down to treating us with dignity and respect. They are understaffing in the hospital, and they are taking from us as costs continue to rise. Allowing us to maintain our financial dignity reflects respect. Providing enough staff so we can care for our patients the way they deserve to be cared for reflects respect," Jeanette Ethridge, RN, who works in behavioral health at Howard University Hospital, said in the release.

In a statement shared with CBS affiliate WUSA, the hospital expressed disappointment about the strike and said the hospital is preparing accordingly.

"While we are deeply disappointed that the union has made this decision, we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that, during the one-day strike, our patients continue to receive the same high-quality care in a safe environment that they expect and deserve," the statement said.

The statement also said the hospital has been working diligently to reach a new contract.

"We have already implemented hourly wage increases averaging 9.6 percent based on our final proposal," the statement said. "Howard University Hospital is properly staffed and we have made proposals to the union to work together to address future staffing needs. We respect and appreciate our RNs and all of our staff members at the hospital that deliver consistently excellent care for our patients."

The strike was scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. April 11 and end 24 hours later at 7:30 a.m. April 12.

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