Hundreds of Philadelphia-area nurses begin strike

Hundreds of nurses began a two-day strike Nov. 17 at Trinity Health-owned St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa.

The hospital, which is part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health's Mid-Atlantic division, estimated between 600 and 700 have chosen to strike, and the union representing the nurses estimated about 775 striking workers.

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals said nurses are primarily striking over staffing.

"The hospital is filling up with COVID patients, and patients are waiting for hours in the emergency room because there's not enough staff to take care of them up on the floors," the union said in a news release. "The ER has been on divert for most of the last week. On some units, schedules are being posted with half the nurses needed for some shifts. The nurses, who risked their lives and the lives of those they love during the first COVID surge, need help."

Ultimately, nurses want hospital management to hire more nurses and take more steps to retain them, so patients are as safe as possible, according to the union.

Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic officials contend both sides have had good discussion around staffing and that wages are the key sticking point in negotiations. They said earlier in November that the union requested an 11 percent wage increase for all nurses in the first contract year, with additional increases totaling 17 percent over the life of the contract. St. Mary's offer was an average of 5 percent in the first year, and on Nov. 13, the hospital said it offered up to 11 percent over the life of the contract. The union contends St. Mary's offer does not go far enough to prevent high turnover.

In a statement shared with Becker's Nov. 17, Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic officials said: "We at St. Mary respect the union members' right to strike, and we remain committed to negotiating in good faith to reach agreement on a fair, consistent and sustainable initial contract for St. Mary nurses. We look forward to the day productive negotiations can resume."

As of Nov. 17, no new negotiations were scheduled.  



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