Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center workers go on strike

Hundreds of Mercy Health St. Vincent
Medical Center employees marched their way to Cherry Street in Toledo Monday
afternoon before kicking off a strike at the doorsteps of the hospital. (Jessica Flaugher) “Standing up for a fair contract.” This comes after 10 months of
unsuccessful negotiations between the UAW union and the hospital. (Denise Duffus) “The UAW
members have been, feel like they’ve been forced to go out on strike. We have some
unresolved issues with the hospital that they haven’t been able to
work with us on the bargaining table.” Those issues include increases in health
care premiums over a 3-year contract. Registered nurse Jessica Flaugher, a
mother of four, says it’s a fear she lives with constantly. (Jessica Flaugher) “Health care is you
know, one of my biggest concerns. She’s chronically ill, in and out of the
hospital all the time. A lot of specialist appointments.
You know, if they raise the price of our health care, it’s gonna bankrupt us.” And
respiratory therapist Kelly Jones, also a mother, agrees. (Kelly Jones) “It’s very scary yeah. I
like I’m getting emotional right now thinking about it. But it’s not something
you want to think about. It’s not something that you want to prepare for. Like nobody has that kind of money to set aside.” The union is also requesting
some relief for employees on-call. (Denise Duffus) They work full-time, 2,080 hours a year, and are
required to take an additional call of up to another 2,000 hours or
more a year.” St. Vincent President Jeff Dempsey declined to discuss the
hospital’s plans to replace workers on strike. However, he did say ‘we worked with
the national company to provide high-quality health care providers in this
unfortunate situation and we’re going to stay open. We’ve got to stay open for
this community.’ And although they’re on the picket line, hospital workers also
say the care of the patients is priority. (Kelly Jones) “Even though we’re out here, we’re
concerned that our patients you know get the best treatment like if we were on the inside.” Meanwhile, employees plan to strike 24/7 until they
can come to an agreement. (Denise Duffus) “I’m hoping that after today they’ll see the solidarity
and the support that the UAW has and that they’ll come back to the table with
reasonable proposals for us.” Even if it means going without a paycheck. (Elizabeth Harris) “No
paycheck. Let’s do it.” In Toledo, Roxanne Elias, The Blade.

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