ST. LOUIS – Labor issues at Saint Louis University Hospital are intensifying as nurses at the hospital take part in a 24-hour strike that is underway. The strike is happening outside SLU Hospital on Grand in Midtown.

It started at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning and is slated to end at 6:59 a.m. Tuesday.

The union for the SLU nurses, National Nurses United, says the nurses are striking to protest what they call “the refusal of the hospital administration to address the RN’s deep concerns about patient care, safe staffing, and workplace violence.”

We’re told advance notice of the strike was given so the hospital could make alternative plans for patient care during the strike. The union says SLU Hospital nurses have been in contract negotiations since May of this year with little success.

Key issues include better pay for nurses and getting a contract that addresses nurse recruitment and retention along with workplace violence prevention. FOX 2 spoke with two nurses who took part in the strike earlier about why they think the strike is important, even if it’s just for one day.

“We are standing united today, showing the hospital that we are serious, showing management that they need to take us seriously. And when they see all of these nurses out front, they’ll see that their staff – we really care about these issues,” said SLU nurse Maddi O’Leary.

Another SLU nurse, Hadas Becker, told FOX 2, “The hope with the one-day strike is for the hospital administration to hear that we are united as a union of nurses in asking the administration to come to the bargaining table with workable proposals.”

Hospital officials are declining to speak on camera. However, they did issue a statement, reading in part, ”While we are deeply disappointed that the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) has chosen to pull some of our nurses away from the bedside to participate in a 24-hour union strike, we remain committed to providing exceptional care to our patients and community. We have comprehensive plans in place to ensure there is no disruption in care or service for the people and community we are called to serve.”

Nurses plan a rally Monday with multiple speakers. FOX 2 will update this story with more information as it becomes available.