Nurses voted this week to approve a strike at Finley hospital in Dubuque. The hospitals’ in contract negotiations with its union nurses but still hasn’t reached agreement, and hospital administrators held a news conference this week. Kathy Ripple, the hospital’s Vice-President of Nursing Services, has represented Finley in negotiations with the nurses’ union for the last year and says she wanted to dispel some rumors about what would happen in any strike.
She says there’s been a rumor that any nurses who “cross the strike line” to work will lose their insurance. She says that’s not true, nor is it true that the hospital “will lock out the nurses.” After 27 hours of negotiations in two days this week, S-E-I-U sent the hospital a strike notice. If the union and hospital don’t reach agreement on a new contract by July 6, the nurses will stage a three-day strike.
But Ripple says the hospital’s made an agreement with “U.S. Nursing,” a firm that supplies temporary staff to medical centers during labor disputes. Ripple says the contract with US Nursing includes a five-day minimum and the hospital will honor it. “This means that any nurse who participates in this strike will not work during the five days that his or her position is replaced by a US Nursing nurse.” Union negotiators say the hospital administration has offered only very small details in its contract when they’re still far apart on two major issues — wages, and “just-cause discipline.”