Group unites to move Philly hospital jobs forward
PHIALDELPHIA, PA – Chestnut Hill Hospital service workers ended their one-day strike Sunday morning, after marching on the picket line to improve their hospital.
The Chestnut Hill service workers hit the picket line at 7:00 am on July 23rd, calling on their employer to invest in Philadelphia communities by providing family-sustaining wages. Many workers at the hospital are paid dollars less an hour than others hospital workers in Philadelphia, which can also have an impact on quality of care.
“I work with patients every day, and they are my top priority,” said Gary Canada, a certified nursing assistant at CHH. “If the hospital isn’t offering good and competitive jobs, they can’t bring in and retain a strong workforce. We risk losing experienced, dedicated employees to other hospitals or nursing homes, and that affects patients.”
Many of the dietary and environmental service workers (employed by subcontractor HHS) at CHH make less than $11/hour and receive health insurance that does not meet federal standards.
“I am 32 weeks pregnant but my health insurance doesn’t cover my prenatal care,” said Keyana Coles, a hostess at the hospital who was on the picket line early this morning. “Each doctor visit would be $80 and I just can’t afford that on my low wages. I was forced to get care at a free clinic, then the company knocked me down to part-time when I requested off for those appointments. I’m a hard worker. I’ve never called off. I’ve never taken a vacation. I deserve to be treated better, and to know my baby girl is healthy.”
They are part of a growing number of healthcare workers across the state who are calling on the industry to invest in the workforce, both to improve local economies and also increase quality of care.
“Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the state,” said Angela Ray, who works in dietary. “If hospitals like CHH aren’t providing family-sustaining wages, then how can our communities grow? How can we lift people out of poverty and make better lives for our children and grandchildren?”
The healthcare workers on strike include nearly 130 certified nursing assistants, transporters, unit secretaries and emergency room technicians employed directly by CHH, along with 80 dietary and environmental service workers employed by subcontractor HHS.
Both groups have been in contract negotiations for nearly two months and are represented by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and health care workers, uniting nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community-based services, and State facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of health care workers` and ensuring quality care and healthy communities and for all Pennsylvanians.