RNs who held strikes in Austin and Wichita now locked out by Ascension
Union nurses condemn lockout as Ascension bars RNs from going back to work
Nurses at three Ascension-owned facilities in Austin, Texas, and Wichita, Kan., condemn Ascension management for proceeding with a three-day lockout following the RNs’ one-day strike at their hospitals on Dec. 6, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United today.
Nearly 2,000 nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin (ASMCA) and Wichita’s Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph hospitals are now facing apparent attempts by management at union-busting by prohibiting them from returning to work for three days — Dec. 7 to Dec. 9 — after the strike.
“We are ready to return to work now but management will not let us in the door to care for our patients,” said Amanda Pierce-Cheng, RN in the ICU at ASMCA in Austin. “Instead of locking us out for three days, Ascension should let us get back to work. We’re ready to settle a contract that lets us give our patients the care they deserve.”
“Management’s lockout won’t intimidate us and we will continue to fight for our patients, our community, and ourselves,” said Angela Cammarn, RN in the cardiac ICU at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita. “We will not back down. We want a contract that ensures that patients will get optimal care. Our priority is our patients and community.”
“Management does not have to lock us out today, tomorrow, or Saturday,” said Becci Nash, RN in the adult psychiatric unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita. “Management could settle a contract today, but instead, they have been dragging their feet. We are fighting for a contract that will hold management accountable so patients will get safe care. We will keep fighting, regardless of management’s attempts to bust our union.”
Nurses will now prepare for a return-to-work delegation on Sunday, Dec. 10, when management has said it will allow nurses who struck Wednesday to return to work (location details here).
The nurses are represented by National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU), the largest and fastest-growing union of registered nurses in the United States today.
BACKGROUND ON NNOC/NNU AT ASCENSION
Earlier this year on June 27, 2023, nearly 2,000 Ascension nurses in Austin and Wichita went on a historic one-day strike despite a blatant union-busting scheme by the hospital system. Ascension is repeating the same tactic for the Dec. 6 strike.
These strikes followed a wave of historic organizing at the three hospitals, driven by nurses’ belief that Ascension has failed to invest its resources — including the tens of millions of dollars it does not pay in federal taxes, due to its nonprofit status — back into its communities and workforce.
And in early November 2023, nurses at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Md. voted to unionize with National Nurses Organizing Committee, citing as their reasons for organizing many of the same problems that their Texas and Kansas colleagues are facing.
Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin:
- 800 nurses represented
- Sept. 21, 2022 - formed the largest private-sector nurse union in Texas by voting to join NNOC/NNU
- Nov. 17, 2022 - held a rally to mark the start of their contract negotiations
Ascension via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita:
- 650 nurses represented
- Nov. 10, 2022 - formed the first private-sector union in Wichita in the city’s largest hospital by voting to join NNOC/NNU
- Feb. 13, 2023 - held a rally to mark the start of their contract negotiations
Ascension via Christi St. Joseph Hospital in Wichita:
- 300 nurses represented
- March 9, 2023 - voted to join NNOC/NNU, making them the second Ascension-owned hospital in Wichita to create a nurses union
- May 22, 2023 - held a rally to mark the start of their contract negotiations
Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore:
- 500 nurses represented
- Nov. 4, 2023 - voted to join NNOC/NNU
National Nurses Organizing Committee is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide. NNU affiliates also include California Nurses Association, DC Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, and New York State Nurses Association.