Pennsylvania hospital workers authorize strike

Nurses at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital in Kittanning, Pa., voted Jan. 26 to authorize a strike, according to a union news release shared with Becker's

The nurses, who are represented by ACMH Nurses United, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, voted to authorize the strike amid contract negotiations that have been ongoing since summer 2021.

They say recruitment and retention of workers is at the forefront of negotiations.

"We want to provide excellent care, and we can't do that when we aren't staffed appropriately and nurses are assigned too many patients at once," Cassie Wood, RN, a 12-year ACMH nurse and president of ACMH Nurses United, said in a news release. "This isn't a problem without a solution — the hospital can commit the necessary resources to the front lines, something a lot of hospitals are already doing, and it's why we find management's unwillingness to commit to these sorts of quality-of-care improvements incredibly frustrating."

The vote does not mean a strike will take place. However, it allows the bargaining committee to issue a 10-day strike notice, if necessary.

In a statement shared with Becker's, the hospital expressed gratitude for the efforts of nurses and other healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Now, however, after six months of negotiations, the union leadership has failed to take a fair contract offer seriously. We need to continue to meet the healthcare needs of this community, today, tomorrow and into the future," the statement said. 

The hospital said its proposal to the union would raise average wages over 15 percent over three years while consistently working to staff based on agreed-upon guidelines.

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