The nurses of Ascension Saint Joseph went on strike the week of Thanksgiving. They were picketing on Wednesday, December 6th after their employer used the strike to claim that shifts they worked in the lead up will not be paid at the rate offered.
At Ascension Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois, chronic understaffing has led to a reliance on staff nurses working “incentive shifts”. These shifts above and beyond the expected workload for nurses are paid at a premium to make it worth the while of nurses to take additional time away from their families to work. Heading into a strike and the holiday season, many nurses heeded the call and accepted these extra shifts in mid November.
After the strike and the end of the pay period, nurses noticed that the additional money they had been depending on was absent from their paychecks. Ascension Saint Joseph CNO Margaret Carroll told nurses, after the fact, that because of the strike, the incentive had been removed from nurses’ pay despite an opposite precedent being set at the last strike. Nurses are now out as much as $1,400 for work they say they wouldn’t have done if they had known it wouldn’t be compensated.
“Two weeks ago, due to two call-offs related to COVID and the dire conditions, I stayed to work the midnight shift even though I had already worked all day.” pediatric nurse Andrea Miller said. “I was rather excited to see my check but when I saw that it had no extra in it for any of the additional shifts I worked, I felt tricked and honestly heartbroken.”
Nurses were picketing from 3:15pm to 5pm on Wednesday to protest the wage theft and to stand in solidarity with nurses at Ascension facilities in Kansas and Texas who were striking on Wednesday due to similar chronic issues in the hospital system. The picket was preceded by a delivery of a demand letter to CNO Margaret Carroll and followed by a car rally.