TOLEDO, Ohio — Nurses from Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center voted to reject the contract negotiated by hospital and union by 57%.
After being on strike for almost 40 days, the nurses were called to work when the UAW and the hospital finally reached a tentative agreement Wednesday after several bargaining sessions.
Now, Mercy Health and the union will resume negotiations to try reach another agreement. After the vote, the UAW asked Mercy for another meeting via email on Wednesday.
In the meantime, nurses will continue to work.
If the nurses were to strike again, they would have to give a 10-day notice.
The disagreement between workers and the union were over on-call hours, healthcare benefits and patient safety.
The UAW leadership released a prepared statement saying the "nurses voted down a contract that included pay raises, a reduction in the number of on-call hours they must work and caps on out-of-pocket health care costs. But nurses insisted that proposal didn’t go far enough – especially provisions dealing with mandatory on-call and safe staffing."
Mercy Health also released a statement and said they were "disappointed that our UAW-represented nurses rejected our updated contract proposal, which was agreed to and recommended by their union leadership and which addressed all publicly-stated concerns. A similar contract was overwhelmingly ratified by UAW Local 12 technical and support colleagues on June 2, 2019."
The statement went on to say that Mercy Health believes the "the rejection was the result of confusion between Local 2213 leaders and the UAW, which resulted in the vote being delayed until this week although nurses returned to work on June 13."
Nurses told WTOL Tuesday that they were happy the contract was rejected because they said the agreement only contained minor adjustments and did not include what they asked.
The UAW also released the contract's highlights and pointed out that nurses "turned down raises, healthcare caps, and other economic benefits because their number one concern is their patients."
The highlights include:
- More than 600 nurses will receive market equity adjustments, with some receiving immediate raises of up to 6 percent;
- Each nurse will receive at least a 2 percent raise;
- Healthcare costs are locked in. The prior contract did not cap out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and the wage increases more than offset higher premiums;
- More than 300 nurses with more than 18 years of service and will move to the top of the wage scales;
- It limits to 16 hours in a 24-hour period the number of consecutive hours a nurse can be forced to work;
- Provides a uniform allowance and increases the number of pieces provided;
- Provides a shift differential for working nights and weekends;
- There is new language to reinforce staffing ratios and other staffing issues and requires them to be posted within hospital units;
- Certain areas will see a 15 percent reduction in on-call hours within an 18-month period.
As of last week, striking nurses said that their concerns were still pressing even though the local union said the majority of issues were addressed in the tentative agreement.
UAW Local 2B Director Rich Rankin said Thursday the decision to end the strike was made because the hospital was going to permanently replace striking nurses.
He said the international union does not agree with Mercy Health's decision, but the local leadership feels getting the striking nurses back into the hospital was "the best way to protect their jobs," Rankin said in a video on Facebook.
The UAW also said they are working with legislators from different levels to pass bills protecting patients against exhaustion over long on-call hours and under staffing.
The union leadership also mentioned the attention the nurses have gained over the past weeks, including when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke out on behalf of the workers.