PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of employees at Rhode Island Hospital voted Wednesday on whether or not to take action and strike over disputes with the hospital.
Brooke Reeves of Teamsters Local 251 told Eyewitness News that the vote was completed and 95 percent of members who voted agreed to issue a 10-day strike notice. She said they will be taking the results to leadership on Thursday.
Reeves said that the workers want to improve the quality of care of the hospital.
“We’re united for good jobs and quality care at Rhode Island Hospital,” Reeves said.
If the contract negotiations still stall, then they will vote on whether they should go through with the strike or not.
The hospital released a statement on Tuesday that reads, in part, “We are committed to bargaining in good faith toward a fair labor agreement that reflects the positive contributions of our employees,” she said.
The statement also said that the hospital has included proposals for an increase in wages — and Reeves says that issue is the one the vote is particularly about.
“It’s about good jobs and quality care. And we cannot give the quality care if we don’t have the resources in our pockets to help those patients,” she said.
The resources, she said, would be “proper equipment” and “proper staffing.”
In the statement, the hospital said that the claims about inadequate staffing are patently false. They also say that if there is a strike, they plan on hiring temporary workers to care for patients.
In a statement, Rhode Island Hospital said, “Should the Teamster leadership direct the hospitals’ employees to go out on strike, RIH has finalized a plan to hire temporary workers to assist us in caring for our patients and meeting our responsibility to our community. Rhode Island Hospital appreciates the role of all of our union employees. However, the hospital will not be forced into a contract that is not in the best interests of our patients and does not make economic sense for hospital resources.”