MercyOne Siouxland releases statement about union nurses’ vote on strike

Local News

Video Courtesy of MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Here is MercyOne Siouxland’s statement about Monday night’s vote from the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 222. Union nurses voted 97% to reject hospital contract and 94% to authorize a strike.

“Dear MercyOne Siouxland Colleagues:

It is a disappointing day for all of us at MercyOne Siouxland as our union dues-paying nurse colleagues voted to reject our contract offer and authorized a strike. This is unfortunate given our hope to work together to overcome differences identified during negotiations.

The purpose of this communication is to provide you with information related to the contract, planning for the strike and your role during this time.

As you know, MercyOne leaders have been meeting with union representatives for more than seven months to reach a new contract agreement. There have been multiple meetings, significant discussions and formal negotiation sessions. Last week, we provided the union with a new, proposed contract that addresses several important financial and work-related matters. I am proud of this contract because it recognizes and rewards the important work of our nurses, while being respectful of the financial realities we face today in health care.

I would like to share some of the key items covered in our latest contract proposal:

· All nurses would receive, on average, a 3.4 percent increase in pay each year during the three-year contract.

· Differential pay remains the same with additional pay for two new classifications of nurse specialty – Tier One and Tier Two. Tier One nurses (includes Cath Lab, Obstetrics, Post-Critical Care Unit and CVOR) would receive up to an additional 3.6 percent each year of the contract. Tier Two nurses (includes Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit or Post-Anesthesia Care Unit) would receive up to an additional 7.6 percent each year of the contract. This increase in pay is important for us to recruit and retain specialty care nurses. The differential pay allows us to begin closing the staffing gap, which is a universal challenge for hospitals today.

· Already agreed upon key improvements, which include staffing, seniority, job postings, leave of absence, bereavement leave, health and safety and more.

· We will continue discussions around health care insurance cost containment and have agreed to bring a health plan leader from Trinity Health to Sioux City to meet with the bargaining unit representatives.

We strongly believe this is an excellent contract and addresses the many concerns and discussions we have had to date. It is important to know that only 52 percent of our nurses were eligible to vote because they pay union dues. In addition to voting down the contract, the nurses authorized a strike which can only occur after the union provides us with a 10-day strike notice. Here is some additional information related to a potential strike:

· Iowa is a right-to-work state and no nurses are required to strike. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) forbids any type of action toward a nurse who chooses to continue working and provide care for patients.

· Any strike will last a minimum of three days. We have a contract with a nurse staffing agency in the event there is a strike, and the agreement requires three days coverage.

· Once nurses return to work, they will be assigned departments and shifts, potentially different than previous assignments as allowed under NLRB guidelines.

Though these recent events are disheartening, we will remain focused on our central mission of providing extraordinary, compassionate care for the patients we are privileged to serve. Our highly skilled and dedicated team of colleagues, along with the contribution of contingency resources, will allow us to continue our healing ministry. I am confident we will come to a resolution in accordance with our mission, values and cultural beliefs.

Thank you for all you do to serve our patients and our MercyOne community. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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