Nurses strike continues without negotiation date in sight

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – As Rhode Island Hospital union nurses and allied professionals continue their strike, a date to return to the bargaining table still has not been set.

Hospital President Margaret Van Bree, DrPH says there will be a cooling-off period after the strike concludes before contract negotiations continue. But the United Nurses & Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098 President Linda McDonald says she wants to get back to the bargaining table – yesterday. In other words: as soon as possible.

Union officials tell ABC6 News the workers have filed hundreds of unsafe staffing reports every year, but there is either no response or the hospital determines there is no issue.

Van Bree says every unsafe staffing report is investigated.

Officials at Rhode Island Hospital, which is also comprised of Hasbro Children’s Hospital, have maintained UNAP never brought up staffing concerns during negotiations – which McDonald denies.

"We hope they come back to work,” said Van Bree. “We value our workforce. We value the care they provide."

The union says wages need to be more competitive so workers can be retained; the hospital says wages are competitive to area hospitals.

The strike will conclude at 3 p.m. Friday, at which point picketers will go back to work, regardless of whether a contract has been agreed upon.

But McDonald isn’t ruling out another strike if negotiations lag. "Whatever it takes to move this hospital – or we will find ourselves in another job action."

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