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Nurses, St. John's to Meet Again, But Union Still Urges Boycott

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(KWMU file)
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By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Leaders of the union that represents nurses at St. John's Mercy Medical Center will meet again with hospital officials Thursday morning.

RNs at the hospital went on strike more than a month ago. The two sides are at odds over wages, staffing issues and union membership rules.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union wants to make union dues mandatory, even for non-union nurses. UFCW Local 655 President Jim Dougherty says that issue remains a prime hang-up.

"When we went into negotiation last time earlier this month, they said they weren't going to move on any of the major issues, and they didn't," Dougherty said. "Hopefully, things have changed and we can come to an agreeable conclusion."

But heading into the new talks, St. Louis labor leaders are urging their brethren to boycott the hospital.

Greater St. Louis Labor Council President Bob Soutier said all local unions need to put pressure on St. John's by taking the hospital off their health plans' preferred provider lists.

"We are urging all of our members and the general public at this particular time to stop using St. John's Mercy Hospital because of serious health concerns," Soutier said.

Soutier said the replacement workers the hospital hired are putting patients at risk.

But St. John's Chief Nurse Executive Chris Crain said the quality of care has not suffered because of the strike.

"Those nurses that we're using from the temporary replacement agencies are licensed in the state of Missouri," Crain said. "They are credentialed and competent in the particular specialty area in which they are working."

Crain said more than half of the nurses filling each shift are regular staff, NOT replacement workers.

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