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Local News

Presence Saint Joseph nurses reject contract

Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center

JOLIET – Nurses at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center have rejected a proposed contract agreement.

The vote was 296 to 184 against the agreement, tallied Friday after three days of voting.

The Illinois Nurses Association has scheduled another negotiating session with the hospital administration for Monday morning, said Pat Meade, community liaison for the Joliet local of the union.

“We’re going to go back to the table, hash it out and see where we are,” Meade said.

Presence Saint Joseph President Robert Erickson issued a statement saying the administration was “disappointed” in the vote but “committed to reaching an agreement.”

The tentative agreement, rejected by the nurses, was reached after midnight May 13 after a lengthy negotiation session that appeared to wrap up a new contract on the same day that the old one was set to expire.

But nurses were concerned about terms in the new contract affecting seniority and the absence of patient ratios guiding how many nurses should be on duty, Meade said.

The proposed contract contained new seniority provisions aimed at addressing concerns about new nurses coming in at higher pay than those with several years of experience at the hospital, Meade said.

Nurses were concerned that they could lose credit for years of experience outside of Presence Saint Joseph under the new rules, she said.

Meade said nurses also were concerned about the absence of a staff-patient ratio that would determine nurse staffing.

“Nurses are adamant that they must have safe staffing,” she said.

The INA issued a news release that said nurses also were concerned about comments from managers in the past week that raised concerns about the hospital’s commitment to an improvement in the contract in regard to the duties of charge nurses.

“The bargaining committee has spent hours listening to the members’ concerns on these and other issues,” INA Executive Director Alice Johnson said in a written statement. “Having heard these concerns, they will return to the bargaining table to address them.”

The INA represents more than 800 nurses at the hospital.

In his statement, Erickson said administration believed the tentative agreement “addressed key criteria that the INA said was important to its members.”

“Our focus remains on arriving at a mutual agreement that is fair for our nurses, preserves the long-term stability of Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, and allows us to continue providing high-quality, compassionate care to the communities we serve,” Erickson said.

Nurses on May 10 voted 529 to 89 to authorize the negotiating committee to call a strike for as long as three days if bargaining breaks down.

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