Possible strike looms at Illinois hospital; more than 700 nurses authorize walkout

More than 700 nurses at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet (Ill.) have authorized their bargaining team to call a strike, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The May 29 decision does not mean a strike will take place. However, it gives union bargainers the OK to call a strike after giving the hospital a 10-day notice.

The nurses at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet are represented by the Saint Joseph Nurses Association, which is part of the Illinois Nurses Association. They have not had a contract since May 9 and have been in negotiations for about four months, Pat Meade, a longtime nurse at the hospital and a union member, told the Tribune.

A key issue for nurses is staffing levels at the hospital, along with pay and benefits, Ms. Meade said. She said nurses were short-staffed before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the public health crisis has escalated the situation.

"It's a nightmare, actually, to even have to consider [a walkout], but we have to have adequate staff to give excellent care to our patients," she told the Tribune.

The newspaper reported that the Illinois Nurses Association is also accusing the hospital of asking union members to waive COVID-19 incentive pay in return for certain extra shifts, and intimidating nurses about union efforts.

Amita Health spokesperson Olga Solares said in an email to Becker's Hospital Review June 1: "As discussions toward a new contract continue, we negotiate in good faith, honoring the hard work and sacrifice of our nurses and looking forward to a contract that supports all."

Both sides are expected to return to the bargaining table this month.

 

More articles on human resources:
Nurses seek raises, plan protests; HCA asks union to forgo pay hike to avoid layoffs
Hospitals and unions: 7 recent conflicts, agreements
Injunction against Marin General labor rally partially invalid, court rules

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