Howard University Hospital
**FILE** Howard University Hospital (Courtesy of CEPamerica.com)

Overview:

Howard University Hospital staff are threatening a strike over low pay and what they claim are understaffing issues.

Just a month after averting a strike by adjunct and non-tenured faculty, the labor union that represents more than 300 workers at Howard University Hospital notified Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick and the hospital’s CEO Anita Jenkins that they’ve organized a one-day strike for April 11 at 7:30 a.m. over complaints of low wages and staffing.

The man issue is “cuts to shift differentials that will reduce nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and social workers’ compensation and negatively affect retention at the hospital,” a statement from the District of Columbia Nurses Association (DCNA) said. 

DCNA also noted that the hospital has operated throughout the pandemic despite being understaffed. They want to negotiate with management, but say they aren’t feeling as if their needs are being heard or addressed.

Months of negotiations ended when the union’s contract expired last November. Hospital management has refused to continue negotiations after presenting its final offer in February. Howard University Hospital proposed hourly wage increases averaging 9.8 percent, and the university rejects the claim that the hospital is understaffed. 

Edward Smith, the union’s executive director told DCist that he is still hoping a walkout can be averted. “Management walked away from the bargaining table despite our efforts to convince them that there were still a number of issues that needed to be negotiated. Because they are refusing to come back to the bargaining table, we really have no choice but to call for a one-day strike.”

The university says management has made every effort to come to an agreement, including five mediation days and more than 20 bargaining sessions.

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