ST. LOUIS – A group of SLU Hospital nurses is planning a one-day strike later this month over patient safety.

Nurses gave their employer (SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital) a notice Friday that they would plan a 24-hour strike in the near future. It’s currently scheduled outside the hospital from 7 a.m. on Sept. 25 to 6:59 a.m. on Sept. 26.

According to a news release from National Nurses United, a group of SLU hospital nurses plan “to protest the administration’s refusal to address RNs’ deep concerns about patient care, safe staffing, and workplace violence.”

The news release further states that the strike follows a 94% authorization vote and was announced with a 10-day notice to allow the hospital to arrange “alternative plans” for patient care. Nurses did not announce any other intentions to strike beyond Sept. 26.

“We care deeply about our community in the St. Louis area and we want to give them the high-quality care they deserve,” said Kellie Allen, RN in the medical-surgical unit at SLU Hospital. “We are fighting for our patients, and that means demanding safe staffing. Studies have shown that safe staffing saves lives. Yet management refuses to adopt safe staffing standards. That’s why we are striking.”

In addition to the planned strike, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted in favor of a resolution Friday that supports the union nurses and “urges SSM to negotiate in good faith” over contracts.

SLU Hospital nurses have reportedly been in negotiations for a new contract with SSM since May 2023.

SLU Hospital Response

SSM Health sent the following statement to FOX 2 relating to the planned strike on behalf of the hospital:

“While SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital (SLU-H) continues to bargain in good faith with the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), and advocate for positive solutions, the NNOC has remained wholly resistant. Since August 29, the NNOC has declined to respond or counter our proposals on key wage issues. Negotiations can only make progress when both sides are motivated and engaged. Rather than focus on bargaining, the NNOC has now announced it will pull nurses away from patient care to participate in a 24-hour strike at the hospital set to begin at 7am on Monday, Sept. 25.

Hospitals and health systems in St. Louis, and across the country, continue to face significant challenges due to the nation’s critical shortage of nurses and health care professionals. Like many hospitals, we are utilizing agency staffing, as appropriate, to maintain safe staffing while we actively recruit additional nurses to join our team. Unfortunately, the highly divisive and politically-motivated strategies which are routinely used by NNOC across the country – including strike threats and attempts to publicly disparage SLU-H and the exceptional care our team provides – are counterproductive to our efforts to continue attracting and retaining nurses to our world-class academic medical center. It’s also important to note that while the NNOC states that 94% of nurses voted to authorize a strike – the NNOC leaders excluded more than 40% of SLU-H nurses from voting because they refuse to pay union dues.

We deeply value all our talented, compassionate and dedicated nurses and professionals who provide exceptional health care services to our patients and community every day. We’re disappointed the NNOC has chosen to pull nurses away from patient care to participate in a strike rather than continue our discussions at the bargaining table. As a non-profit Mission-based organization, providing extraordinary care to our patients, creating a culture where team members can thrive and making our communities a better place to live is our priority. When the union is ready to engage, we remain committed to reaching an agreement that provides our nurses with a strong, market competitive compensation and benefits package – while ensuring continued exceptional care and service at SLU-H.

Patient safety is our top priority, and our health ministry is well-prepared to remain open and care for our patients during any work stoppage event. We will have a comprehensive contingency plan in place to ensure there is no disruption in care or service for those we are privileged to serve.

We look forward to returning to the bargaining table to reach an agreement that supports our nurses and patients – while continuing our focus on fostering a positive, supportive workplace where all team members can thrive. This includes significant ongoing investments to ensure competitive compensation and benefits, opportunities for career development and growth, and programs to support team member physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.