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Local News

Striking Joliet nurses say no to AMITA proposal

Striking nurses at AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet have rejected the hospital's contract proposal, the Illinois Nurses Association announced Saturday night.

The vote means the strike will continue.

Pat Meade, a nurse and a lead negotiator in the contract talks, called the vote "resounding" with 72% of the nurses rejecting AMITA's offer because it did not go far enough in meeting the union's concerns about staffing levels inside the hospital.

"They're not willing to put their money at the bedside where it needs to be," Meade said.

Meade said out of the 547 nurses who voted, 393 rejected the contract proposal and 154 voted to accept it.

The union represents 720 nurses at the hospital.

Meade the union will contact AMITA to try to arrange for contract talks on Sunday.

The nurses went on strike July 4.

The AMITA proposal came out of contract talks held Wednesday, the first bargaining session since the strike began.

The INA put out a statement saying the union will "develop a modified agreement that includes measures to hold AMITA accountable on staffing issues as well as protections to ensure each hospital unit floor is staffed to account for patient safety."

“This offer failed to address our biggest concern about safe staffing levels,“ INA Executive Director Alice Johnson said in the statement.

The AMITA proposal did provide language on staffing but nurses viewed it as insufficient, Meade said.

Nurses also are looking for guarantees that they will not face reprisals for strike activities, she said.

"We know their history of reprisals," Meade said. "We don't want our nurses turned back at the door for picket line activity."

AMITA has eased up on a three-year pay freeze that was in contract proposals before the strike.

The hospital had issued a proposal the day before the strike started that provided wage increases in the second and third year of the contract. Meade said the latest proposal also includes a bonus in the first year.

AMITA is staffing the hospital with agency nurses, some recruited from around the country with pay offered at $65 an hour. Outside nurses have been provided rooms at hotels and are brought to work in buses.

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