Joliet Nurses Announce Strike Protesting Illegal Implementation of Ascension Offer

The 500 union nurses of St. Joe’s Nurses Association put in the mandatory ten day notice to strike on February 8th and 9th. They are asking their community to show support.

Last year, Ascension Healthcare faced a wave of strikes and unionization efforts stretching from Austin, Texas to Rochester, Michigan to Baltimore, Maryland, all protesting the employer’s chronic understaffing, below market wages and regular violations of federal labor law. Nurses at Ascension St. Joseph in Joliet, Illinois went on strike twice as part of that wave and have now called for a third ULP strike after the company unilaterally implemented an offer that nurses resoundingly rejected in December.

The company implemented its supposed “last, best and final” offer (LBFO) on Sunday, January 21st, after claiming that it is at an impasse with the union. The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents the bargaining unit nurses, has clarified that the parties cannot be at impasse. The union has announced its willingness to continue making movement in negotiations, and has requested additional bargaining dates. The Union nurses overwhelmingly rejected Ascension’s last offer for several reasons, including the company’s insistence on certain non-monetary terms and conditions of employment which would pose serious health and safety risks to both nurses and patients.

The nurses have also been moved to strike by mounting chaos and divestment at the hospital. Patients have reported flooding, infestations of cockroaches and ceilings caving in. Nurses say the hospital’s scheduling systems were not prepared for the implementation of new policies and there is uncertainty about expectations and pay.

“I’m resentful about the way Ascension has managed the hospital and those of us who work there,” veteran nurse Sue Pellegrini said. “They view everything through the lens of cutting costs as if those cuts don’t hurt people.”

The St. Joe’s Nurses will be hosting a community town hall event on February 6th at the library at 150 N Ottawa St. in Joliet. Patients and residents are encouraged to come talk about their experiences and their hopes for getting the hospital back on track. Community members are also encouraged to stop by the picket line on the 8th and 9th anytime between 7am and 4pm.