Nearly 200 nurses can be seen protesting Monday, July 6, 2020, outside AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet in Joliet, Ill.
Nearly 200 nurses can be seen protesting Monday, July 6, 2020, outside AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet in Joliet, Ill.

Nurses and AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet are scheduled to return to the negotiating table Wednesday as a strike will enter its fifth day.

The two sides have exchanged contract proposals since the strike by 720 nurses began Saturday, although they have not met. The upcoming bargaining session was scheduled before the strike began.

Nurses are still seeking contract language that would increase staffing to what they consider safe levels at the hospital.

"We have to have something in place that will move toward some kind of safe staffing initiative," Pat Meade, a nurse and lead negotiator in the contract talks, said Tuesday.

The latest proposal from the company on Monday did not provide the staffing levels nurses are seeking, Meade said. Nurses in turn sent a proposal to AMITA.

While the nurses are on strike, they are also facing a lockout that AMITA imposed the day the strike started, Meade said. That lockout runs until Thursday.

An AMITA spokesman could not be immediately contacted to comment on the lockout and whether it would be extended.

The nurses proposal for safe staffing would include the hiring of 60 additional nurses, Meade said.

AMITA is running the hospital with replacement nurses recruited in the days preceding the strike.

Advertisements for replacement nurses listed pay at $65 an hour while AMITA would provide hotel rooms and flights to Illinois for those who travel from out of state.

The outside nurses are being paid more than the nurses they are replacing, Meade said.

"There is not one nurse in that hospital who makes $65 an hour," she said.

For more local news, visit The Herald-News at https://www.theherald-news.com.

The Herald-News