A group of nurses in Joilet are now taking their strike into a second week after rejecting an offer from AMITA Health Saint Joseph’s Medical Center.
The nurses, who are represented by the Illinois Nurses Association, rejected AMITA’s three-year contract on Saturday, citing a failure by the company to reasonably address issues surrounding short staffing at the hospital, according to a release from the INA.
“The nurses have spoken loud and clear. They are demanding staffing improvements with guarantees,” said Pat Meade, RN, one of the lead union negotiators.
Union leaders said the offer didn’t go far enough to make sure nurses are replaced when there are sick calls or other issues at the hospital, a measure that would help provide sick patients with the care they need, especially during a pandemic, according to one of the nurses on strike.
“You can’t go in there and continue to work like this and have your patients not do well,” said Meade. “I’m not saying everybody does poorly, but that’s how you feel if you’re not able to give them the time that they require.”
An AMITA health representative responded to an inquiry by NBC 5 on Sunday evening and said they're disappointed by the rejection
"We believed this agreement was fair and balanced, addressing the criteria the INA indicated were important to its members," said Olga Solares, associate vice president of communications and media relations for AMITA Health.
"Despite the rejection of the tentative agreement, we are committed to continued negotiations in good faith. Our focus has been and shall remain to arrive at a mutual agreement that is fair and just for our nurses, allows for the long-term financial stability of the medical center and allows us to continue providing high-quality, compassionate care to the communities we serve."
Saturday’s proposal by AMITA was rejected by over 70-percent of the 720 nurses represented by the INA.
“Were so disconnected from management and the higher-uppers that they have no idea what’s going on on the floors and how we’re suffering and the patients are suffering,” staff nurse Cindy Cozzi said.
On Sunday, the INA reportedly submitted a proposal that addresses staffing as well as other issues like wages and protections against striking nurses, according to The Herald News.