Nurses file complaint to address understaffing and low-pay complaints.
A nurses’ union has filed a legal complaint against Ascension St. Joseph hospital in Joliet, Illinois, concerning alleged wage theft. The union contends that medical personnel never received the raises they were promised, and when questioned, the hospital’s human resources (HR) department gave them inconclusive answers as to whether the paycheck increases would come to fruition.
At first, the filing contends, the nurses remained patient and had hoped the hospital would solve any administrative issues that could be causing the delay. Nine months passed, however, without any traction, and they felt that had to take legal action.
The hospital has previously been met with a number of other complaints, namely about staffing shortages and nurses being overworked, creating less-than-ideal conditions for patients. Internal probes have found that Ascension exceeded mandated guidelines for the number of allowed patients per working staff member.
The current filing states that nurses who voiced their concerns about staffing issues to the HR department were disciplined by being put on extended leave. And, according to a GoFundMe page that was set up for the nurses, “These suspensions are blatant retaliation that violates these union nurses’ contract protections and federal labor law.”
The staffing shortage issue was the subject of an unfair labor practice complaint initially filed against Ascension St. Joseph Medical hospital back in October 2022. Intensive care unit (ICU) nurse Heather Johnson said of the issue she and her colleagues were facing, “I’m frankly embarrassed by the care that I gave. You know, these are people’s mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, and I couldn’t give them my best and it hurts.”
In addition, previous complaints mentioned that the wages paid out by the hospital were drastically lower than that of other nearby facilities. That, combined with the missing raises, labor disputes, and paid time off inconsistencies ultimately led to the latest case. There are four named plaintiffs.
“I think Americans are understanding that more and more. I think we’re seeing a greater sense of working people understanding themselves as being exploited by their bosses.” said Attorney William Bloom, who represents the group of nurses filing the federal wage theft lawsuit. “In the last several years, the phrase ‘essential worker’ has kind of gotten life of its own. These workers are absolutely essential, and management has not treated them that way.”
Due to business decisions that were rolled out just prior to the pandemic in order to cut costs, the coronavirus crisis was made worse at Ascension. In response to the allegations, Ascension St. Joseph Medical Hospital claims that staffing issues and any other healthcare challenges are fundamentally misguided, and that the complaints fail to address the severity of the pandemic and how it has changed the present mode for care. On previous occasions, the hospital system has claimed to have launched its own investigations into the issue, to presumably, find proof that the pandemic is to blame for the complaints leveraged against it.