Local News

Illinois Nurses Association files complaint against St. Joe’s in Joliet

The union wants the hospital’s union nurses paid in full immediately.

AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center sign

The Illinois Nurses Association has filed a complaint with AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, demanding the hospital’s union nurses be paid in full immediately.

About 700 nurses have received partial pay since mid-December. On Dec. 11, the Ultimate Kronos Group was impacted negatively by a ransomware attack. St. Joe’s uses UKG for its timekeeping and payroll.

Kronos is now back up and running, according to Timothy Nelson, AMITA Health’s system director for communications and media relations. While Kronos was down, timekeeping was kept using a manual system, Nelson said in a text message Jan. 4.

A news release from the Illinois Nurses Association on Monday said union officials wrote the following to St. Joe’s:

“AMITA’s failure to pay INA members accurately and fully for their hours worked is a clear contract violation; it is also a violation of state and federal law. As of right now, every nurse that was not paid appropriately has a claim under the Illinois Wage and Hour Act; nurses not getting paid for overtime also have claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, the Fair Labor Standards Act has recordkeeping requirements that AMITA seems to be in violation of based upon its reply to our information request and the fact that most of our nurses were not paid proper amounts on last Friday’s checks.”

John Fitzgerald, staff specialist for Illinois Nurses Association, said he doesn’t expect the grievance to resolve the issue or get all 700 nurses paid immediately. He doesn’t expect all 700 nurses will be paid in full even by the Jan. 21 paycheck, he added.

But he said union filed the complaint anyway.

“I think it’s necessary we file it,” Fitzgerald said Monday. “I can see folks not getting paid properly down the line.”

Fitzgerald said the complaint is necessary, even if only six nurses are later found to still be improperly paid. Although the nurses are upset with the situation, Fitzgerald doesn’t feel they’ll leave St. Joe’s over the payroll issue.

But he feels the payroll issue might nudge any nurse already fed up with St. Joe’s for not upholding contractural obligations out the door. Those nurses might decide to head another hospital or an agency, he said.

“[Agency nurses] can just jump around and make more money,” Fitzgerald said.

According to the release, 955 nurses working at midwestern hospitals owned by Ascension Health Inc. – including nurses at St. Joe’s – expressed their concerns over safety and treatment of the nurses in a 2021 survey. The survey found that:

• 80% said their hospital struggled with maintaining staff

• 72% said patients didn’t receive – or only sometimes received – safe, quality care

• 71% said their hospital has performed elective surgeries during the pandemic.

• 60% have considered quitting their job and 40% felt afraid to go into work because of COVID-related concerns.

Nurses at St. Joe’s went on strike during the summer of 2020 over staffing issues, and signed a new contract July 2020. But by October 2020, nurses had filed more than 100 complaints about staffing levels.