Jun 26, 2023 - Health

Ascension Seton nurses to strike

Illustration of hands in medical gloves holding red picket signs, forming a red cross symbol.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Unionized nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin will strike Tuesday, a move that will cost them three unpaid days off.

Driving the news: Ascension management announced last week that nurses who participated in the one-day strike would not be allowed to return to work for three additional days, blaming it on a contractual obligation to retain temporary staff for four days.

  • The nurses' union, National Nurses United, called the decision a "deliberate ploy to intimidate nurses from speaking out" and filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • The union gave Ascension a 10-day notice of its plans.

Flashback: Nurses unionized last fall over concerns of insufficient staffing, which they say has led to worker burnout and an increase in patients falling as they try to get to the bathroom.

  • The nurses' union announced this month it would strike to protest the health care system's "refusal to address its endemic staffing crisis" and accused management of dismissing its staffing and recruitment concerns during contract negotiations.
  • A 2022 New York Times investigation found that Ascension "spent years reducing its staffing levels in an effort to improve profitability" before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

What they're saying: "Ascension management pushed nurses to this position by failing to listen to or implement our solutions to address the staffing crisis," Monica Gonzalez, a registered nurse in the Ascension Seton neurology unit, said in a statement.

The other side: In a statement last week, Ascension Seton officials said they were "disappointed" the union decided to proceed with the strike, "especially given the economic and logistical hardship this will present for our associates and their families."

  • However, Ascension Seton said there will be no disruption in care or services for patients.

Zoom out: 900 nurses are expected to strike, the largest nurses' strike in the state's history, according to the union.

What's next: Nurses plan to gather to make picket signs tonight at Rudy's BBQ.

  • They will walk out of the building at 6:45am Tuesday to begin their strike, and hold a rally at 9am Tuesday in front of the building.
  • They will also rally at 6:15am Wednesday to show management they are ready to go back to work, despite being locked out for three more days.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Austin stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more