The status of 8 labor disputes during the pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, unionized hospital and health system employees have fought for better staffing, pay and working conditions. 

These labor disputes have resulted in new collective bargaining agreements and included strikes. In the U.S., the number of new union contracts in healthcare has decreased more than a third since March 2020, while strikes climbed 22 percent during that period, according to a Bloomberg Law database of union contracts and work stoppages. 

Here is the status of eight labor disputes during the pandemic:

Note: This is not an exhaustive list. 

1. Montefiore New Rochelle (N.Y.) Hospital nurses went on strike in December, citing a need for more pandemic resources and a contract that guarantees safe working conditions. As of May 18, the New York State Nurses Association and Montefiore had not reached an agreement, according to Bloomberg Law

2. Nurses at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center also went on strike in December. The New York State Nurses Association, which represents about 2,000 nurses at the hospital, cited, among other issues, staffing problems and a requirement that nurses reuse N95 masks up to 20 times. In a statement shared with Bloomberg Law, hospital spokesperson Matthew Markham denied union accusations and said the hospital submitted a contract proposal in January but has not received a union response. 

3. In March, nurses approved an agreement with UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wis., averting a strike. The two-year contract covers more than 850 nurses represented by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, a statewide branch of the Service Employees International Union. 

4. Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu reached a tentative contract agreement with Hawaii Nurses Association OPEIU Local 50 in January, averting a strike.

5. Three HCA Healthcare hospitals in Southern California reached a tentative contract agreement with SEIU 121RN in December, averting a 10-day strike. Nurses and licensed medical professionals at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Los Angeles and Riverside Community Hospital authorized the strike Dec. 11. 

6. Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., on May 18 posted another 49 permanent replacement nurse positions during a strike by union-represented nurses in its 11th week. The permanent replacement nurse positions come more than two months after members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association went on strike March 8. The union, which represents about 800 Saint Vincent nurses, returned to the bargaining table this month, but it's at an impasse with the hospital on staffing. 

7. Minneapolis-based Allina Health reached a tentative agreement with the union representing 4,000 workers at its facilities in the Twin Cities area. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said the agreement came May 5, days before workers were set to strike May 10. 

8. Technical employees at St. Charles Health System's hospital campus in Bend, Ore., agreed to end their strike after reaching an agreement March 12 with hospital management. The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, which represent about 150 technical employees at the St. Charles campus, filed a strike notice Feb. 22, and the strike began March 4. 

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