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Striking Joliet nurses submit new proposal on Sunday after rejecting AMITA offer

72% of voting nurses rejected AMITA's latest offer

Megan Jessen can be seen holding a sign while picketing Wednesday, outside AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet.
Megan Jessen can be seen holding a sign while picketing Wednesday, outside AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet.

Striking nurses on Sunday submitted a new contract proposal a day after voting down an offer from AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center.

Nurses on Saturday voted 393 to 154 against a proposal AMITA made last week to end the strike that is in its ninth day.

The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents 720 nurses at the hospital, said AMITA proposal did not address the union's concerns about staffing levels at the hospital.

The union met Sunday with the attorney representing AMITA, said Pat Meade, a nurse at the hospital and one of the lead negotiators for the union.

"We did submit a new proposal," Meade said. "It's something that we can support. If AMITA is on board, we feel that we can get this done"

The nurse's latest proposal deals with staffing, wages and protections from reprisals against striking nurses, Meade said.

The new proposal contains revisions aimed at addressing concerns expressed by nurses in rejecting AMITA's latest offer, Meade said.

"He (the attorney) is going to take it to the employer and get back to us," Meade said.

AMITA has not provided a comment on the situation since nurses voted down its proposal Saturday night.

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 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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