The union representing nurses and other workers at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital has announced plans to strike in 10 days -- on July 23rd -- after its members rejected a three-year contract offer.
The United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098 issued the ten-day strike noticed on Friday. UNAP represents more than 2,400 nurses and other non-physician health care workers employed by Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital system.
The union said its members voted "overwhelmingly" Thursday night to reject Lifespan's three-year contract offer and called on hospital officials to “immediately return to the bargaining table.’’ Its members have been working under a contract that expired June 30.
Barring progress at the bargaining table, the strike would begin Monday, July 23 at 3 p.m. The strike would continue until Thursday, July 26, at 3 p.m., at which time UNAP Local 5098 will “make an unconditional offer to return to work,” the union said in a statement.
Hospital officials are "fully prepared" to addequately the hospitals and care for patients in the event of strike, Lifespan said in a statement.
Hospital officials said they are disappointed the union rejected the three-year contract offer, which included pay raises for all UNAP members ranging from 6.1 percent to 21.5 percent over the life of the contract.
David Levesque, a Lifespan spokesman, said the proposed pay raises for unionized employees include:
For nurses with one to ten years of service:
· 3.5 percent in year one; 2.25 percent in year two; 2 percent in year three. (These raises would be on top of the 4 percent annual increases these nurses receive during their first ten years of employment.)
For all employees with over 10 years of service:
· 2 percent in year one; 2 percent in year two; 2 percent in year three.
The increases are designed to bring the salaries of nurses with ten or fewer years of employment “up to market rates,’’ Levesque said in an email.
Hospital officials also “hoped to implement a new bonus program for all UNAP-represented employees,’’ Lifespan said in a statement. The contract offer also included a “non-deductible health care insurance plan and retirement program with a six percent hospital match.’’
(A summary of the proposed contracted is posted here.)
Union officials also cited a “remarkably high turnover rate” of employees at Rhode Island Hospital, which is attributed to “punitive policies on everything from safe staffing to sick time.”
Lifespan’s Levesque said the hospitals turnover rate is “completely in line with other hospital systems in the state.” He declined to elaborate.
update at 5 p.m.