WEATHER WATCH
'Don't procrastinate just negotiate': Howard nurses protest low wages, staffing issues
Howard University Hospital staff hold signs reading "Don't procrastinate just negotiate" and "We demand safe staffing" during a strike on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Joe Ball/7News)

About 300 Howard University Hospital nurses and medical personnel held a strike outside the campus Monday morning.

The one-day strike was over low wages and staff shortages, according to Edward Smith, the head of the District of Columbia Nurses Association.

Howard University Hospital staff hold signs reading "Don't procrastinate just negotiate" and "We demand safe staffing" during a strike on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Joe Ball/7News)

The union says they are protesting against low pay and inadequate staffing issues. 

Protesters held signs reading "Don't procrastinate just negotiate" and "We demand safe staffing" during the strike.

Howard University Hospital staff hold signs reading "Don't procrastinate just negotiate" and "We demand safe staffing" during a strike on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Joe Ball/7News)

RELATED | Howard University nurses set to strike next week over low wages, staff shortages

Nurses at the hospital have reported nearly 100 staff vacancies since the start of the year. The hospital staff has been without a contract since November.

The nurse strike comes less than six months after students occupied a dorm hall for over a month protesting unsanitary dorms.

7News spoke exclusively with Howard University hospital’s CEO who says even though negotiations and nearly 2-dozen bargaining sessions stalled, the hospital still implemented an average pay increase of 9.6% which hit paychecks last week.

“So, we do have agency personnel, our managers, our directors who are nurses and have the ability to staff, they absolutely will be at that bedside. And I will be right there with them in scrubs, doing whatever I can to make sure that is what’s most important happens, and that’s taking care of the community that we serve," said Anita Jenkins, Howard University Hospital CEO.

The labor union says it comes down to the “respect and dignity” of the workers.

Howard University Hospital staff hold signs reading "Don't procrastinate just negotiate" and "We demand safe staffing" during a strike on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Joe Ball/7News)

SEE ALSO | Howard professors call off strike as university reaches agreement on labor negotiations

Following the publication of this story, Howard University Hospital spoke with 7News again, asserting the nurse’s union is wrongly suggesting that DCNA members are underpaid.

The hospital system provided a breakdown of its first-year compensation package, which it says, shows a “significant wage increase.”

“On Thursday, April 7, Howard University Hospital DCNA members received a significant wage increase, that averages in excess 9.8%,” Howard University Hospital spokesman Tony Blue stated.

Howard contends:

  • 98% of all 317 DCNA staff members at HUH are getting net compensation increases
  • Close to 50% of DCNA staff members are getting net increases of $10,000 or more
  • Out of all DCNA employees, 5 staff members may possibly experience net reduction—and only one in the range of $3,000.
  • The five staff members did not receive a net wage increase because their wages were already above market rates.

Two charts below provide breakdowns of the net compensation increase to all DCNA staff members and the compensation increases for staff, Blue said. The figures do not include estimates for overtime.

Howard University Hospital staff wage increase graphic April 2022 (Howard University Hospital)

Howard University Hospital wage chart April 11, 2022 (Howard University Hospital)

“The amounts [above] consider the recently implemented annual wage increase together with any estimated effect that the new flat-rate shift differential might have on each staff member’s annual compensation. Shift differential is defined in the labor agreement as an hourly premium for staff members working evening, night and weekend shifts. Shift differential amounts in the chart below is estimated based on shift differential hours staff members worked historically,” Blue said.

The D.C. Nurses Association has had about 20 negotiation sessions and five mediation meetings with the hospital dating back to last summer, but still no contract agreement.

Jenkins says there is a plan in place so patient care is not jeopardized.

”Let me be clear, our hospital will be fully staffed and taking care of our patients. There will be no decrease in care and quality care while our nurses display the right to strike if they want. But do I want them to come back and say yes let’s keep talking or let’s consider this differently or let’s take this to a vote, absolutely," said Jenkins.

SEE ALSO | 1 person arrested after Howard University student shot in LeDroit Park, police say

“We’ve been thinking and preparing for this for a long time, and so we do have agency nurse personnel. Our managers, our directors who are nurses and have the ability to staff, they absolutely will be at that bedside. And I will be right there with them in scrubs doing whatever I can to make sure that what is most important happens and that’s taking care of that community that we serve," added Jenkins.

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