“We return to the bargaining table today with clear intent and renewed purpose. Bedside caregivers have been disrespected and devalued by wealthy hospital executives for too long and our members are resolved to change the toxic culture that pervades Lifespan,” said Frank Sims, RN, UNAP Local 5098 president. “We’ll stay at this for as long as it takes to win a fair and competitive contract.”
Members of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098, and representatives of Lifespan returned to contract negotiations on Wednesday. Discussions were again being led by a Federal mediator.
Meanwhile, UNAP members and supporters once again held and informational picket outside Miriam Hospital.
Negotiations ended without a deal being reached. The parties are expected to resume discussions on Friday, August 17th.
“Today, Lifespan made clear its intent to punish union members for exercising their protected rights to strike by further threatening the economic security and healthcare of UNAP members and their families. While some progress was made during last week’s negotiations, today’s exchange was a sharp step backward. It’s almost as if management is goading us into another work action,” said Sims. “Despite management’s punitive and irresponsible posturing, we will be back at the table on Friday to continue working towards a fair and competitive contract.”
UNAP provided the following timeline:
- The contract for approximately 2,400 UNAP nurses, technologists, therapists and mental health workers at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital expired June 30, but was extended until July 14.
- UNAP is pressing for a fair and competitive contract and for Lifespan to address chronic understaffing, high turnover and a fundamental lack of key resources for front line caregivers. Despite Lifespan’s claims to the contrary, these issues have been raised by UNAP at the bargaining table.
- July 12: UNAP votes down a contract offer from Lifespan because it fails to address a number of patient safety and economic security concerns.
- July 13: UNAP issues a 10-day strike notice for a three-day action beginning July 23 at 3:00pm and ending July 26 at 3:00pm.
- July 19th: Local 5098 members resoundingly reject a second, lesser contract offer from Lifespan and vote to move forward with the three-day strike.
- July 23: The federal mediator orders both sides to return to the bargaining table. Lifespan sets a deadline of 11:00am that morning for a deal to be reached. Offers are exchanged through the mediator and Lifespan fails to respond by its own 11:00am deadline, resulting in negotiations concluding for the day.
- July 23: The strike begins at 3:00pm at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Picketing commences outside the main campus on Dudley and Eddy Streets.
- July 26: The strike ends at 3:00pm and the Lifespan-ordered lockout begins. The lockout was initiated at the insistence of Huffmaster, an out-of-state company that contracted with Lifespan to provide temporary workers during the strike at a cost of approximately $11 million.
- July 27: The lockout ends at 3:00pm and many UNAP members returns to work. Lifespan delays the return of an indeterminable number of workers after the lockout.
- August 2: UNAP members overwhelmingly vote “no confidence” in Lifespan CEO Timothy Babineau and Rhode Island Hospital President Margaret Van Bree. The union also votes to authorize members of its’ bargaining team to issue a ten-day strike notice, in the event that negotiations with Lifespan again break down. A second vote by the membership would have to occur before moving forward with a strike.
- August 8: UNAP leaders and Lifespan management return to the bargaining table. No agreement is reached.
- August 9: UNAP files unfair against Rhode Island Hospital for implementing unilateral changes to a number of workplace conditions that are subject to collective bargaining. Lifespan initiated illegal call-off procedures when it prevented a number of union members from returning to work immediately after the lockout ended on July 27, at 3:00pm. Additionally, the hospital denied at least one vacation request of a Local 5098 bargaining team member who has been an outspoken critic of Lifespan’s policies. A similar request for vacation was approved for at least one other employee who has not been part of the negotiating process.
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