TOLEDO (WTOL) - The UAW Local 12 announced Tuesday that UAW Bargainers and Mercy Health-St. Vincent Medical Center have agreed to extend the current collective bargaining agreement until Nov. 13 at midnight.
Around 2,400 nurses and support staff at Mercy Health’s St. Vincent Hospital and Children’s Hospital are currently considering a strike.
They hope to send a message to Mercy Health that they’re frustrated. The frustration stems from contract negotiations with the healthcare system. Proposed raises, staffing levels, benefits and a host of other issues are all in dispute.
Separate unions UAW Local 12 and Local 2213 represent the hospital’s support staff and nurses respectively. They have been working to renew their contracts for a couple of months without success. Both unions have separate three-year contracts that expire Monday.
Union leaders say they sense a different relationship with the hospital now that Mercy Health has joined with Bon Secours Health System out of Maryland. UAW Local 12’s president says it’s the most difficult contract negotiation they’ve ever had with the hospital.
“We’re asking the question ‘why has the cultured changed at these negotiations?’ And the only thing we can think of is they’ve now become a major corporation. They’re a big dog in the court now, and we’re sensing a different culture. Now whether that has anything to do with it, I don’t know, but something’s changed,” said UAW Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower.
While Baumhower said he believes their members will vote that they’re willing to strike, it’s not what they ultimately want.
"If we did have a strike, it’d be a huge cost to St. Vincent’s, of course. It’d be a huge cost to our members too, so nobody wins in strikes. Usually you settle it, and both walk away feeling bad, and so we don’t want that. We want to walk away feeling good and get this done without a strike,” said Baumhower.
In a statement sent to WTOL Friday, Mercy Health said they continue to negotiate with the unions in good faith. Local 12 members expect to know the results of their strike-authorization vote by 10 tonight. Local 2213 members will be voting today and Monday.
If the nurses and support staff do decide to strike, they have to give ten days’ notice to the hospital. Mercy Health says they will continue to monitor St. Vincent’s staffing continuously and will adjust as needed.