Strike set at 3 Ascension hospitals

Members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United, are set to strike June 27 at three Ascension hospitals in Kansas and Texas. 

The union represents 900 nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, as well as 650 nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kan., and 300 nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph Hospital, also in Wichita. All three hospitals are part of St. Louis-based Ascension. 

Union members voted to authorize strikes in May and June. The union and hospitals began negotiating new labor deals either earlier this year or in fall 2022, according to a news release from NNOC/NNU. A statement Ascension shared with Becker's said the health system is disappointed about the decision to move forward with a one-day strike, "especially given the hardship this will present for our associates and their families, and the concern this action may cause our patients and their loved ones."

The union contends that during contract negotiations, Ascension management has not offered adequate solutions for safe staffing protections and nurse recruitment and retention, which nurses say is critical to ensuring patient safety.

"Ascension management pushed nurses to this position by failing to listen to or implement our solutions to address the staffing crisis," Monica Gonzalez, a registered nurse in the neurology unit at Ascension Seton Medical Center, said in the NNOC/NNU release. "Ascension management has the power to settle a strong contract now, if they are serious about staffing up and improving nurses' ability to provide safe patient care."

"Patient safety is our top priority, and our ministries are well-prepared to remain open and care for our patients during this work stoppage event," Ascension said in a statement. "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."

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