Joliet nurses will strike again Thursday morning, invite public to meeting

Two-day strike starts Thursday. Ascension will lock out nurses another two days.

Union nurses on strike on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet Hospital, 333 Madison St., Joliet.

Union nurses at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital will host a community meeting Thursday night after starting a short-term strike in the morning.

The meeting will include a panel discussion about issues in the ongoing labor strife between Ascension and the nurses, as well as an opportunity for people to ask questions.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Joliet Public Library downtown branch at 150 N. Ottawa St.

“Patients and residents are encouraged to come talk about their experiences and their hopes for getting the hospital back on track,” the Illinois Nurses Association said in a statement about the meeting.

The union also invited the public to join nurses on the picket line outside the hospital.

A group of nurses along with the Warehouse Workers for Justice picket outside Ascension Saint Joseph Hospital in Joliet on Wednesday, Dec. 6th, 2023.

Nurses at 7 a.m. will begin their third two-day strike since contract talks began in May.

As in the previous two-day strikes, Ascension will lock out the nurses an additional two days, saying its contract for replacement nurses requires that they be on the job at least four days.

John Fitzgerald, chief negotiator for the Illinois Nurses Association, said the union met with Ascension again Monday and presented a proposal to try to end the contract dispute.

“We’re hopeful that we can get a deal done,” Fitzgerald said.

But another meeting between the two sides has not been scheduled.

The strike Thursday is over Ascension’s decision to implement what management has termed its final offer Jan. 21.

Union nurses on strike on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet Hospital, 333 Madison St., Joliet.

The company contract proposal gives Ascension the authority to reassign nurses throughout the hospital, which the union said takes nurses outside their areas of expertise and poses a threat to patient safety.

Fitzgerald said the same issue led to the formation of the nurses union at the Joliet hospital in 1993.

Ascension, meanwhile, points to double-digit pay increases in the final offer, saying the proposal is being implemented because of an impasse in contract negotiations with the union.

“Instead of offering meaningful proposals for us to consider, INA has opted to call a third two-day strike – a decision that is unproductive and ultimately creates unnecessary burdens for our nurses, patients and community,” Ascension said in a written statement.

Ascension said the hospital is prepared to continue providing care during the strike and lockout.