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Nurses Union issues RI Hospital 10-day strike notice

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nurses at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital could soon head to the picket lines after a local union rejected a new three-year contract offer from Lifespan. 

United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) at Rhode Island Hospital announced Friday afternoon it had issued a 10-day strike notice.

The union said a strike would begin July 23 at 3 p.m. and continue until July 26 at 3 p.m., at which time it would make an offer to return to work.

"We do not take this step lightly and urge Lifespan executives to return to the bargaining table as quickly as possible so that a fair and competitive deal may be reached," said Frank Sims, RN, president of UNAP Local 5098.

The union - which represents more than 2,400 nurses and other health workers - has been in contract negotiations with Lifespan since its last agreement expired June 30.

Union President Frank Sims issued a statement saying, "Lifespan's short-sighted and punitive policies on everything from safe staffing to sick time have a direct correlation to the remarkably high turnover rate we experience at Rhode Island Hospital. Health professionals are leaving at unprecedented rates because Lifespan fails to give caregivers the tools we need to do our jobs and offers a compensation and benefits package that is not fair to all healthcare workers."

In a statement, Rhode Island Hospital said it's disappointed with the vote.

"The hospital strongly believes the three-year contract proposal included an extremely competitive wage and benefits package, including pay increases for all UNAP members that ranged from 6.1 percent to 21.5 percent over the life of a three-year contract....Rhode Island Hospital strongly believes that the majority of our nurses’ salaries already meet or surpass salaries paid at other hospitals in the state."

The hospital said it had hoped to implement a new bonus program for union members. 

"The hospital provides our nurses and technical staff with the resources needed to provide the best care possible to our patients. At no time during negotiations had the union leadership brought any such concerns to the bargaining table," the hospital said.

The union is now calling on Lifespan officials to return to the bargaining table to continue negotiations and hopefully avoid a strike. 

The hospital said a federal mediator is working to bring both sides together.

"Rhode Island Hospital wants our nurses caring for our patients, but, in the event of a strike, the hospital is fully prepared to adequately staff our hospital and meet the needs of our patients," the hospital said.


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