Nurses at Ascension Joliet set to strike Tuesday

Nurses and supporters chant while picketing outside Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet hospital on the first day of a two day strike, followed by a two day lockout on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023.

Nurses at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet Hospital announced that they will go on strike again Tuesday and Wednesday.

The strike would be the second by nurses, who are in negotiations on a contract that expired in July at the Joliet hospital.

“The strike will be over the recent unfair labor practices of the company’s refusal to bargain in good faith,” the Illinois Nurses Association said in a statement Nov. 10 announcing the strike.

Nurses have been negotiating since May on the contract and called a two-day strike in August over the hospital’s use of agency nurses.

The latest call for a strike reflects ongoing frustration over negotiations, nurse Beth Corsetti said.

“The reason for it is the sheer neglect in the negotiation process,” she said.

Corsetti said nurses in the past week were asked to agree to a contract provision that Ascension would not put in writing concerning a cap on raises.

“They literally would not come back with anything in writing,” she said.

Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet Emergency Department on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

The union also was frustrated when Ascension recently required nurses involved in negotiations to leave the hospital to participate in a bargaining session that was conducted over the internet instead of in person.

Ascension spokesman Timothy Nelson said in an email that the Joliet hospital is prepared to continue operations during the strike.

“We have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure there is no disruption in care or service for those we are privileged to serve,” Nelson said.

Ascension in August contracted with a company to bring in substitute nurses during the strike. The arrangement led to a two-day lockout of the nurses in addition to the two-day strike. Ascension said its contract with the company supplying substitute nurses required that they be employed at least four days.

Nurses went to the Joliet City Council on Nov. 7 asking the council to continue the support it has given to nurses during the negotiations.

“We appreciate you. We support you,” Mayor Terry D’Arcy told Corsetti and other nurses at the meeting.

“I think what the hospital is trying to do is break the union,” said council member Jan Quillman, who previously worked as a nurse at another hospital.

Nurse Pat Meade said understaffing at the hospital has led to a decline in patient care that the public at times unfairly attributes to nurses.

“They’re blaming us for what exists there,” Meade said. “I’m just saying do not do that.”