“Rhode Island Hospital employees have sent a clear message,” said Teamsters Local 251 President Paul Santos. “It’s time for Lifespan to listen to the employees and the community and agree to common-sense proposals for good jobs and quality care.”
An FAQ sheet sent to union members and the media says the vote doesn’t mean there will be a strike – but it does move the 2,200 hospital employees one step closer to that. “Voting to authorize a strike notice does not mean we will issue a 10-day notice right away,” it reads.
According to a press release from Jobs With Justice sent late last night, “Sticking points in negotiations include job security, fair wage increases and retirement benefits, and Lifespan’s rejection of proposals to address unsafe staffing and equipment and supply shortages that undermine patient care.”
According to an FAQ sent by Rhode Island Hospital, “the hospital wants to make it clear that neither a strike nor the threat of a strike will make bargaining more productive nor will it force the hospital to take any action that it does not believe is in the best interest of its patients, employees or the hospital.”
In a statement, hospital spokeswoman Beth Bailey said, “The vote process came despite recent movement by the hospital on key wage and benefit proposals. The initial union proposals called for more than $20 million in wage and benefit increases, an amount that is unsustainable in the current healthcare environment. The union proposals included: wage increases twice the hospital average, additional hospital contributions to health insurance, a second retirement plan, and additional vacation days, among other requests. The hospital responded with proposals that increase wages for all three years of the contract … the hospital is not asking the union for any give-backs for wages, retirement or benefits.”
According to a press release from the union, “Sticking points in negotiations include job security, fair wage increases and retirement benefits, and Lifespan’s rejection of proposals to address unsafe staffing and equipment and supply shortages that undermine patient care. Lifespan executives have angered employees and the community by rejecting common-sense proposals, including a proposal to require the Hospital to ‘maintain sufficient staff and adequate supplies.'”
Local 251 represents 2,200 employees at Rhode Island Hospital, including non-medical staff, such as secretaries, janitors and landscapers. “But they also represent the unit assistants, the folks who check on patients to make sure everything’s okay, and the CNAs,” said Jesse Strecker of Jobs With Justice.
“This campaign is about workers and the community working together for a better Lifespan,” Strecker said. “The overwhelming vote shows that workers are sticking together and the community will stick with them.”