Press Release

St. Louis nurses overwhelmingly vote to authorize second strike

St. Louis nurses on the picket line holding signs that read "United for Our Patients"

SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital RNs voted to authorize the bargaining team to call a strike due to management’s persistent union-busting, outsourcing of RN jobs

Registered nurses at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital (SLUH) in St. Louis, Missouri, voted by an overwhelming majority today to authorize their nurse bargaining team to call a strike, if management fails to resolve key issues RNs have been raising in contract negotiations, including outsourcing of nurse jobs, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU).

If the nurses call a strike, they will provide a 10-day notice to SLUH and do so to specifically call attention to outsourcing of nurse jobs. SSM Health is outsourcing nurse jobs, instead of hiring full-time union staff nurses who are invested in the community. Having a revolving door of nurses in a hospital – rather than longtime employees who know their workplace well – disrupts the continuity of care that patients need in their medical treatment. Agency nurses are nonunion nurses who do not have the right to speak up about working conditions or patient care.

“Outsourcing is not a solution to the staffing crisis,” said Sarah DeWilde, RN in the medical-surgical unit at SLUH. “Temporary, outside agency staff should only be used to fill occasional gaps, not to replace full-time union nurses, who are necessary for continuity of care and mentorship of new staff. Outsourcing will only exacerbate the current staffing crisis and further erode the quality of patient care for years to come.”

“Outsourcing is union-busting,” said Earline Shepard, RN in the cardiac catheterization lab at SLUH. "Nurses feel that management is sick of nurses standing up for patients and calling out dangerous working conditions. This is why we had to vote to authorize a strike. We can’t let SLUH silence us or our patients.”

SLUH union nurses have been in contract negotiations with the hospital since May 2023. The RNs held a strike in September 2023 and informational picket in July 2023 to protest the staffing crisis at the hospital and to highlight their concerns about patient safety. Throughout bargaining, the RNs have focused on the need to reverse management’s failure to recruit and retain experienced nurses, which impacts patient safety. Nurses are intent on reaching an agreement that will improve recruitment and retention, and therefore strengthen the hospital’s ability to hire adequate permanent staff. 

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, there are 117,831 nurses in Missouri with active licenses as of August 29, 2023, but according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 78,900 are working as nurses. There is no nursing “shortage” in Missouri. Nationwide, there are more than a million registered nurses with active licenses who are choosing not to work as nurses. More data and information debunking the nurse “shortage” myth can be found here.

National Nurses Organizing Committee has represented the nurses at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital since 2012.

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.