PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) -- A union representing about 2,400 health care workers at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital said in a statement that a strike will begin at 3 p.m. Monday.
Local 5098 of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals said last-ditch talks with Lifespan and a mediator Monday morning failed to resolve the impasse, which the union has indicated centers on working conditions.
"Hospital management announced a deadline of 11:00 a.m. for any agreement to be reached to avert a strike. That deadline has come and gone without a response from management to the union's last offer, which was conveyed at approximately 9:15 a.m. With no response from the hospital, negotiations have concluded for the day. No further negotiations have been scheduled at this time," a statement from the union said.
Lifespan responded in a statement that UNAP "walked out" on negotiations.
"During the 8 a.m. meeting – requested by the federal mediator – the union rejected a restructured proposal from the hospital that included generous wage increases ranging from 9 to 25 percent over four years. Instead, UNAP leadership submitted wage increases of up to 28 percent, and added significant additional economic proposals that rendered their offer simply unrealistic," the statement said.
In addition, the hospital said, "Contrary to union leadership's rhetoric, neither their recent proposal nor any of UNAP’s previous proposals included requests related to staffing or patient safety."
The union said Lifespan told UNAP members that their shifts will end at 1:30 p.m. Picketing will begin at 3 p.m. on Dudley and Eddy streets, the union said.
"This is a difficult day for all of us. Every member who walks the picket line understands what's at stake for themselves, their families and their patients. Lifespan is a broken system where wealthy executives make millions and front line caregivers are ordered to do more with less, and until that changes, patient care will continue to be adversely impacted," said Local 5098 president Frank Sims in a statement.
The union initially said the strike would end on Thursday, but Lifespan says members will be locked out until 3 p.m. Friday.
"We are extremely disappointed that UNAP leadership has decided to move forward with the strike. No one wins in a strike. The hospital has offered extremely competitive wage and benefits packages valued at tens of millions of dollars," the Lifespan statement said.
Rhode Island Hospital is the only Level 1 trauma center in the state. In addition to replacement workers, Lifespan said it has taken additional steps to prepare for a strike.
It said the emergency department is on diversion, which means EMS services are encouraged to take patients to other hospitals. Lifespan said the Rhode Island Department of Health has advised EMS providers to take stroke patients to one of six primary stroke centers at other hospitals in Rhode Island.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state health director, said Rhode Island Hospital's ER would accept walk-ins as well as trauma, burn, cardiac and respiratory emergencies. Hasbro's emergency room will accept pediatric emergencies.
Lifespan said all elective services and non-urgent diagnostic testing procedures were rescheduled.
Alexander-Scott said state Department of Health workers will be stationed at the hospitals during the strike to monitor the sitaution.
Local 5098's contract expired June 30. Members rejected a offer and authorized a strike.
The local represents 2,400 nurses, technologists, therapists and health professionals at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital.