The Illinois Nurses Association (INA) reports over 700 nurses at AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet will strike this morning following a halt in contract negotiations with the hospital.
Nurse in Joliet have been working without a contract since May 9th in Joliet.
A notice was given to AMITA 10 days ago. AMITA has used the time to build up a staff of replacement nurses, most of them out of state, according to the INA.
According to a news release, nurses will begin picket and rally outside AMITA on Madison Street in Joliet. There is no indication on how long the strike could last. A bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday.
“AMITA is prepared to spend millions of dollars fighting the nurses’ union but refuses to invest in hiring enough nurses to provide safe care for patients,” said Pat Meade, RN, one of the nurse negotiators, the two sides are still far apart, calling the most recent contract proposal from AMITA Health worse than its first offer.
INA officials say the strike is protesting “AMITA’s illegal acts, which include intimidation and threats of termination to prevent nurses from exercising their rights under federal law.”
“AMITA proposed a three-year wage freeze whereas INA has offered wage increases more closely tied to cost of living increases. They are unwilling to act on nurses recommendations to improve staffing and patient care, which is a top priority for our members,” Meade said. “We presented AMITA’s offer to our members and 89 percent rejected it.”
The strike occurs in the heart of a pandemic where over 6,800 cases of COVID-19 have occurred in Will County with over 2,000 cases coming from Joliet zip codes. As of Friday, 7,005 Illinois residents had died during the novel coronavirus pandemic.