800 Pennsylvania hospital nurses vote to unionize

Nearly 800 registered nurses at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa., have voted to unionize, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The nurses will join the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, which represents about 9,000 nurses and healthcare professionals statewide, including hundreds at the slated-to-close Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Nurses who support unionization have expressed concerns about issues such as staffing.

"This was never about money," Donna Halpern, a nurse in the hospital's cardiac critical care unit, told the Inquirer. "I want to be able to go and care for my patients within the scope of my license ... and not have to worry about which patients get 100 percent of my care."

St. Mary is part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, one of the largest nonprofit Catholic health systems in the U.S. Trinity Health also owns four other hospitals in the Philadelphia region, only one of which is unionized.

In response to the St. Mary decision, Trinity spokesperson Ann D'Antonio told the Inquirer the voting "gave nurses the right to choose whether to work directly with nursing leadership as they have in the past, or to have PASNAP act as their exclusive agent on issues of pay and benefits."

"Nurses were split on the issue, with strong feelings on both sides, but by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin, voters chose to change the historical relationship and let PASNAP be their negotiator," she added.

She also told the newspaper there are "still legal issues to resolve that could alter that outcome."

Read the full Inquirer report here.


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