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Local News

AMITA cancels Tuesday bargaining with Joliet nurses, strike set for Saturday

Nurses at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center have set a July 4 strike date if they don't reach agreement on a contract.
Nurses at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center have set a July 4 strike date if they don't reach agreement on a contract.

Nurses said Tuesday that AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet called off the last scheduled bargaining session before a July 4 strike date and instead reissued a previously rejected contract proposal.

A spokesman for the Illinois Nurses Association said the union was unsuccessful in an effort to meet with AMITA after the company called off negotiations scheduled for Tuesday.

"We tried to have a sidebar with them to reignite the discussion in a positive manner," spokesman Chris Martin said.

Martin said the nurses on Tuesday were working their proposal in an attempt to reach an agreement.

The next negotiation session is scheduled for July 8. But Martin said a resolution could still be reached before Saturday's strike date.

"You can always schedule a talk," he said. "You can always exchange proposals. You can always work through a mediator."

The two sides have been meeting with a mediator for weeks.

The nurses' contract expired May 9.

A spokesman for AMITA in a written statement did not address whether management had called off the Tuesday talks and noted no more negotiations are scheduled before the strike date.

"The team for AMITA Health presented its final proposal to the INA negotiating team in advance of this morning’s session, giving INA the opportunity to consider the proposal for the benefit of all their members," spokesman Timothy Nelson said in an email. "There are no further negotiations scheduled prior to the planned strike on July 4."

AMITA has been recruiting replacement nurses for a possible strike to keep the hospital operating.

Nurses have said the top issue is staffing levels at the Joliet hospital, while AMITA also has proposed eliminating their wage scale with no raises coming for the next three years.

AMITA has said it cannot provide raises in 2021 because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nurses have planned a pre-strike rally for Wednesday morning outside of AMITA's headquarters in Lisle.

Nurses at the Joliet hospital last went on strike in 1993.

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