Nurses discuss unionizing following pay cuts at Beacon Health

NOW: Nurses discuss unionizing following pay cuts at Beacon Health

Following Beacon Health System's decision to cut the pay rate for contracted nurses, ABC57 has learned some are discussing unionizing.

As ABC57 first reported, Beacon sent a memo last week notifying staff of $3 per hour pay reductions for nurses under a 3-year contract starting next month, and $7 per hour reductions for nurses under 5-year contracts. A hiring freeze is now in effect and Beacon is ending some services.

A nurse, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, tells ABC57 the situation has them feeling sick.

"A little nauseous. I just have a whole different feeling about the company. And it's sad. But there's no trust there now. And I'm not looking forward to working under that circumstance," the nurse said.

Multiple nurses working for Beacon Health System have told ABC57 that co-workers are considering organizing and unionizing.

"There were discussions. They have escalated," one nurse said. "They have definitely escalated since these letters came out."

Another nurse described the attempt to unionize as a "long shot".

It's not clear how the hiring freeze will impact Beacon Health System's partnership with Ivy Tech Community College. Beacon's Scholar Program, which started last year, pays future nurses a stipend, covers the cost of education, and guarantees a job upon completion of the program.

Beacon Health System is the South Bend region's second-largest employer, according to the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. In a statement sent last week, Beacon said, "We are making these adjustments so our focus can remain on delivering outstanding care, inspiring health and connecting with heart in the communities we serve for well into the future."

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