With no deal, what’s next for union as nurses strike wraps?

By John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The strike by hospital workers in Providence is now in its final hours, but there is still no deal between Lifespan and the union.

Striking nurses and techs at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children’s Hospital want better pay, benefits and staffing.

Thursday night was the last night of the four-day picket, and workers are raising their voices about what they call a lockout by Lifespan, because they planned to strike for just three days.

"They don’t care," said Lolo Abraham-Jefferson, a nurse and case worker. "We want to go back and do our work and take care of our patients, but we’re locked out."

Lifespan claims the strike had to last four days, because that was the minimum time the out-of-state replacement workers could sign on for.

"I think it’s a bullying tactic," said United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5098 president Frank Sims.

But as the strike winds down, it’s hard to ignore the lack of a deal or even any talks.

Asked if he still considers the strike successful, Sims said, "Absolutely. I think it served its purpose. We told Lifespan we’re not going to be bullied."

"I don’t know what it’s accomplished yet because we haven’t made it back to the table," said Sims. 

Sims says another strike is possible, though it’s not clear how soon or for how long.

"It could be soon, it could be far off," said Sims. "It’s simply an option if we have to use it. Hopefully we don’t end up in a situation where that circumstance becomes necessary, but it certainly is a possibility, yes."

If there is another strike, Sims told me the union would consider one that’s open-ended, as opposed to having a set end date.

Meanwhile, once workers return Friday afternoon, Lifespan says it still expects a lower number of patients than usual. Because of that they say some shifts for nurses and techs may be canceled.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018