After a tense week of contract negotiations that frequently lasted late into the night and early morning hours with a strike looming, Women & Infants employees and Care New England management have tentatively agreed to a new deal.
“Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and SEIU 1199 New England this morning announced that they have reached a tentative agreement on their contract negotiations, subject to ratification by the full union membership,” according to a press release. “A ratification vote will likely be scheduled in the next week or so.”
The news came via a press release, sent at 4:15 this morning from Care New England, the management company that runs the Providence birthing center. SEIU 1199NE, the union that represents rank and file workers, was also listed as a contact on the email.
SEIU 1199NE first announced the tentative deal on Facebook at about 4am. “The best way to avoid a strike: be prepared to have one,” Chas Walker, an organizer for the labor union, posted to the photo. “Way to go bargaining committee, strike captains, and all 1199 members at Women & Infants Hospital!”
Nurses and health care workers have been mired in contract talks since September with CNE management. Employees told RI Future at a recent picket line to call attention to the contract talks that the most important issue to them was safe staffing levels.
“We want more staff so we can work our normal hours,” Carol Reuter, a nurse who has worked at Women & Infants for 30 years, said. “That would be the best result, to get new people hired.”