Pennsylvania hospital workers vote to strike

Workers at Allegheny Health Network affiliate Warren (Pa.) General Hospital have submitted a 10-day strike notice amid contract negotiations, according to the union that represents them.

The 114 nurses and healthcare workers, who are represented by the Warren General Hospital Professional Employees Association, a local chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, issued the strike notice about three months after their last labor deal expired in September.

They contend that leaders at the 87-bed hospital have refused to prioritize quality patient care and include staffing guidelines in the new contract. The union also expressed concerns about the future of workers' retirement funding.

"Safe staffing is a quality-of-care issue," PASNAP President Maureen May, RN, said in a news release. "This is especially true during a pandemic, when patient volumes are high and every community member is a potential patient."

Under federal labor law, workers must give healthcare employers at least 10 days' notice before a strike. A strike could still be averted if both sides reach a labor deal.

Warren General Hospital CEO Rick Allen expressed disappointment about the union's plan to strike in an email to the Times Observer.

"I am deeply disappointed and shocked that the members of the [PASNAP] union have chosen to harm our community hospital and negatively affect delivery of patient care through a strike," he wrote in the email, according to the newspaper. "The negotiating committees have agreed on almost all aspects of a new contract including significantly increased salary, benefits and language regarding staffing guidelines. By any measure our current offer is extremely generous."

Mr. Allen said he hopes a strike is averted, but the hospital is prepared with appropriate plans if one does occur. 

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