ALTOONA, PA — On Wednesday, Jan. 15, registered nurses at UPMC Altoona voted by an overwhelming majority to authorize their bargaining committee to send a strike notice to management if they are not able to reach a new contract agreement.
“We are concerned because management is proposing changes that we know are not in the best interests of our patients,” said Sue Delozier, who has been an RN at the hospital for 34 years. “We don’t want to go on strike, but we won’t sit back and allow them to make changes that could hurt our community.”
Nurses have proposed better staffing, which leads to better patient outcomes and higher satisfaction, but management has not addressed these concerns. Management’s proposals include a wage freeze and cuts to benefits that would affect all nurses, especially those who have worked longest at the hospital.
“Why would management want to drive away experienced nurses?” said Paula Stellabotte, RN. “The hospital can’t provide excellent care if they aren’t offering jobs that attract and retain a strong workforce.”
Global healthcare giant UPMC acquired the hospital in June. Hospital management promised the move would be “extremely positive” for patients and the entire region.
“We are not seeing anything positive, in fact, these proposals will move us backwards,” continued Delozier. “We promised to be advocates for our patients and our community and that is exactly what we are doing.”
The vote would authorize nurses to send a strike notice to management if an agreement cannot be reached. They are scheduled for two more days of negotiations, with their contract set to expire on Jan. 25.
Over 800 registered nurses at the hospital are members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.
For more information, contact Karen Gownley, SEIU Healthcare PA, at 717-805-6070 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.