Nurses at Jefferson Health hospital vote to authorize strike

Members of Einstein Nurses United, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, have voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike at Jefferson Health Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

The union represents about 900 nurses at Einstein Medical, according to a PASNAP news release. Einstein Medical is a 548-bed tertiary-care teaching hospital and part of Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health.

The vote to authorize a strike does not mean a strike will occur. The union would issue a 10-day notice in the event of a planned strike.

Ninety-six percent of voting nurses voted in favor of authorizing a strike, according to the union release. The nurses and management have been in negotiations. The nurses' contract lapsed on April 30. Jefferson Health spokesperson Irene Contreras said in a statement that Einstein Medical remains committed to bargaining in good faith with the union for a new contract "that continues to provide nurses with fair, competitive wages and benefits and allows our hospital to provide the highest quality patient care."

The union contends management has not adequately addressed the issues they have raised in negotiations. Nurses say they seek to address critical quality of care issues such as the need for safe staffing, recruitment and retention of nurses, workplace violence prevention, and resources for caregivers. 

"Our patients need a safe, secure hospital in which to receive high-quality care delivered by nurses who are staffed appropriately and therefore able to give each and every patient the time and attention they deserve," Patrick Kelly, RN, president of Einstein Nurses United, said in the union release. "Until Jefferson stops putting profits before patients and invests in their nurses, this cannot be achieved."

"We are disappointed PASNAP is threatening the possibility of a strike," the hospital statement says. "Jefferson Einstein remains focused on the health and welfare of our patients, visitors, employees, physicians and volunteers. Our hospital will remain open and fully operational during any potential PASNAP strike and will maintain the delivery of quality patient care. We will implement a comprehensive strike contingency plan to ensure minimal, if any, disruption for those receiving care or visiting our hospital during PASNAP's strike."

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