PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Negotiations between the Rhode Island Hospital nurses union and Lifespan are set to continue next week after talks on Wednesday night did not result in a deal between the two sides, though the hospital characterized the talks as “productive.”
Wednesday’s meeting, which began at 5 p.m., was the first negotiating session between the two sides since the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098 went on strike the week of July 23.
Rhode Island Hospital spokesperson David Levesque said both sides submitted proposals and agreed to meet again on August 15.
The unionized nurses, technologists and therapists walked off the job on July 23 over stalled negotiations for a new three-year contract. They returned to work on the 27th after the three-day strike and a one-day lockout, but without any resolution of the underlying dispute.
“I remain hopeful that we will win a fair and competitive deal that is worthy of the skill and sacrifice of our members,” Local 5098 President Frank Sims said Wednesday night. “There are still a number of issues to address in this contract, and we are committed to seeing them through.”
Sims said the union will continue to focus on unsafe staffing levels, high turnover, lack of resources and the economic security of its members as negotiations proceed.
Signaling some movement on those issues, Levesque said the hospital accepted “in full” a proposal by the union to to “create a joint labor/management committee on staffing, equipment and supplies.”
Levesque said the hospital also presented a new wages and benefits package for the union to consider.
“Rhode Island Hospital is committed to supporting, retaining and recruiting nursing and allied professionals by providing competitive wages and benefits, as well as providing a safe and stable work environment,” Levesque said in the statement.
The union and Lifespan are scheduled to return to the bargaining table with the federal mediator on August 15. The union has also announced an informational picket will be held outside of The Miriam Hospital that same day from 2-4 p.m.