Ascension Seton Medical Center nurses set to strike on June 27
Nurses at Austin’s Ascension Seton Medical Center will hold a one-day strike on Tuesday, June 27, according to a statement from the nurses' union, National Nurses United (NNU).
The hospital's 900-person nursing staff voted overwhelmingly June 1 to authorize a strike, citing a stalemate in negotiations between the union and Ascension Seton. The union has now delivered a legally required 10-day notice to hospital management.
According to the union, this would be the first strike by nurses in an acute care setting in state history and the largest strike by nurses in Texas.
Since voting to form the union in September, nurses at Ascension Seton have cited hiring and retention provisions as key issues at the bargaining table. In particular, nurses are focused on securing lower guaranteed nurse-to-patient ratios. They say current workloads are causing burnout.
“Ascension management pushed nurses to this position by failing to listen to or implement our solutions to address the staffing crisis,” Monica Gonzalez, a registered nurse in the neurology unit at Ascension Seton Medical Center, said in the statement. “Ascension management has the power to settle a strong contract now, if they are serious about staffing up and improving nurses’ ability to provide safe patient care.”
The union was required to give Ascension 10 days' notice of a strike so the hospital could arrange for patient care.
Ascension said Friday it had contracted with a staffing agency to temporarily replace the strikers, but that it was required to commit to at least four days of work for each employee. That means any nurse who goes on strike would not be able to return to work until July 1.
The union called the move a “ploy” to intimidate them.
“Nurses planned a one-day strike because, ultimately, patient care is our top priority,” Lindsay Spinney, a nurse in Ascension's neonatal intensive care unit, said in a statement. “Management would rather once again spend money to solve a problem they’ve created and punish us for speaking up in the process.”
The local nurses will strike on the same day as nurses at two Ascension-operated hospitals in Witchita, Kan. In total, NNU says 2,000 nurses will take action on June 27.