Temple nurses threaten to strike

    Temple University Hospital nurses and affiliated staff say they will strike on March 31st, if the Temple University Health System and their union cannot agree upon a new labor contract.

    For the second time in less than six months, Temple University Hospital nurses and allied staff are threatening to strike. The nurses union says employees have been operating without a new contract since September. [audio:100319kgnurses.mp3]

    Union members and leadership from the state and national AFL-CIO gathered in front of Temple University Hospital to announce a possible strike, beginning March 31st.

    Eakin: We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to stay here and fight for an adequate contract….applause

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    Patty Eakin is an emergency room nurse and the president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

    We didn’t want to have a strike at all, which is why we delayed and tried to continue to work with them. But now it’s been six months of them refusing to move in any direction.

    Bill Cruice is the executive director of the association.

    Cruice: We have been working under the terms of an expired contract for six months now but Temple to this moment stubbornly refuses to change its position on several key areas.

    Those key areas include resctrictions on union members speaking disparagingly about the hospital, and doubling co-payments on health insurance. Eakin says the main points of contention are employee contributions to health insurance, shift work requirements and wage increases.

    Temple Hospital’s CEO, Sandy Gomberg, says the hospital’s latest contract offer was fair and competitive.

    Gomberg: The negotiations are always about wages, benefits and working conditions. And we believe our last, best and final offer is fair and reasonable and competitive in the marketplace. But we’re still pretty far about on the terms of wages, benefits and working conditions.

    Gomberg says the only way to resolve those differences is at the table, and negotiations will need to continue. Gomberg says the hospital will remain open, with or without the union nurses being present.

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