Indiana Regional Medical Center nurses eye possible strike
Nurses at Indiana Regional Medical Center have set the stage for a potential strike amid negotiations for a new contract.
Members of the Indiana Registered Nurses Association voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to authorize a strike but did not set a strike date, union officials said. In a statement, the union noted the vote authorizes IRNA officers to call a strike “when they feel it is necessary” but doesn’t guarantee a strike will occur.
If the 340-member IRNA decides to strike, it must give the hospital a 10-day notice. The local union is an affiliate of HealthCare-PSEA.
The union said it would respond to the hospital’s latest proposal at a Wednesday bargaining session, with additional sessions scheduled into December.
IRNA President Kathy Wolfe said hospital negotiators have taken a ”‘take-it-or-leave-it’ approach. That kind of attitude shows they’re not ready to seriously bargain with us.”
She said the union is eager to reach “an agreement that helps our nurses and our hospital continue to move forward.”
Union officials didn’t cite particular points of contention in the contract talks. “There are several issues that remain to be addressed,” said Annie Briscoe, PSEA Central Western Region advocacy coordinator.
The nurses are continuing to work under a contract that will expire Oct. 31.
Chief Growth Officer Mark Richards said IRMC is “disappointed that the union leadership decided to take a strike authorization vote when we have been bargaining in good faith since August and have additional bargaining sessions scheduled prior to the contract expiration, but it is not uncommon for this to occur.”
He said the hospital has a plan in place that will allow patient care to continue without interruption, in the event of a work stoppage.
“IRMC is one of a few remaining independent community hospitals,” Richards said. “Maintaining our future viability necessitates changes to our employee benefit structure. Our goal is to reach a fair and market-competitive agreement that balances the needs of our organization and the interests of our employees.”