Nurses say Temple’s offer includes a “gag clause”

    Nurses in a labor standoff with the Temple Health System say the hospital is trying to stifle their free-speech rights and their ability to advocate for patients.

    Nurses in a labor standoff with the Temple Health System say the hospital is trying to stifle their free-speech rights and their ability to advocate for patients. The hospital and the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents 1,500 nurses and health workers, have been in contentious labor negotiations for months.

    Listen:

    [audio:091104tenurse.mp3]

    Bill Cruice leads the nurses union. He says the hospital’s last contract offer included a gag clause that subjects workers to discipline if they speak out.

    Cruice: If you’re a nurse and you see something that is wrong in your hospital and you want to criticize your employer either privately or even in the public square, you have the right to do that.

    The hospital’s interim CEO Sandy Gomberg says the proposal was a signal to the union, not hospital workers. She says there’s no gag order on employees.

    Gomberg:
    The union has confused our position about their defamatory activity with the rights and responsibilities of individuals or employees in the organization.

    Gomberg says the hospital wants workers to speak up and take action when they perceive that patient care or hospital operations need improvement.

    Cruice leads the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. He says the proposal would have a chilling effect on nurses trying to advocate for their patients.

    Cruice: Subjecting nurses and other professionals to discipline if they criticize publicly Temple’s policies or any actions that may have happened in the hospital. We think that this would be very bad for patients, very bad for nurses and the other professionals who work there.

    Gomberg says Temple will not tolerate defamatory or derogatory statements from union officials. She says there is no move to stifle the free-speech rights of workers.

    Gomberg: It is not a gag order on our employees in any way, shape or form. It is our position that any of our employees should have the freedom to speak on any topic they like, in whatever forum they like to whomever they like.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.