Hospital workers go on strike in Rhode Island
25 July 2018
More than 2,400 nurses, mental health workers, technicians and therapists at Rhode Island Hospital and its associated Hasbro Children’s Hospital have gone on strike this week, with hundreds picketing the hospital in Providence. Workers called the strike after rejecting a new contract by vote last week, along with demands made by management in a federal mediating session on Monday morning.
The workers are striking against attacks on their raises, pensions and working conditions. The three-year contract that recently expired guaranteed 3.5 percent yearly step increases for each worker. These steps cover the first 10 years of a worker’s tenure, and no additional cost of living increase has been given to them for the last eight years.
In the recent negotiations, management sought to “restructure”—that is, weaken—the steps, with raises as low as 2.25 percent per year over a four-year contract.
A striking nurse told WPRO, “I’m doing everybody else’s job with very little resources, poor equipment, and the people are getting sicker and sicker. I’m incapable of doing my job, at this point, safely.”
Lifespan is a hospital group composed of Rhode Island Hospital and four others, including the Brown University medical school. RIH by itself is the fourth largest employer in the state, and Lifespan, with 17,000 workers, is the largest.
On Monday Lifespan’s director of public relations boasted that the system is worth $2.2 billion, then complained to the press that last year it “showed an operating income of only $14.6 million.” The organization is paying $10 million to Huffmaster Strike Services to provide scabs during the strike. If this amount were paid out to the 2,400 striking…