Rally with Community Supporters Fills Irvine Park, Picket Line Remains at Hospital
BEAVER, PA —Registered Nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver held a one-day strike on Tuesday, July 19, walking out out of the hospital and joining hundreds others on a picket line in response to outrageous demands from management. Management wants to increase the number of patients for nurses in some parts of the hospital, and to drastically raise healthcare costs, making care unaffordable for some nurses and their families. Negotiations broke down earlier this month when management walked away from the table.
“None of us want to be on strike today – we want to be in the hospital taking care of our patients,” said Mimi Tambellini, RN in the Behavioral Health Unit and a union chapter Vice President. “But to do that, we need to fight for the kind of staffing that will put our patients’ safety first.”
Hundreds of community supporters joined the nurses at a rally in Irvine Park in Beaver that evening.
Rev. Dr. Judy Angleberger, HR, the interim pastor at North Sewickley Presbyterian Church (USA), kicked off the rally with a few words on reconciliation, and a prayer. “It is deplorable that 500 nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver have to go out on strike today to get their administration to keep negotiating,” said Rev. Dr. Angleberger. “The administration has taken a ‘take it or leave it’ stance, which does not allow for conflict resolution.”
Ed Stuck, a volunteer at the hospital, offered his support.
“As a volunteer, I’ve witnessed the expertise, caring, and professionalism of these nurses. It’s about time that the hospital has the same consideration and understanding toward the nurses that the nurses have every day for their patients.”
Carrie Campbell spoke on behalf of the Esoldo family and her sister Renea Esoldo, an RN and a patient at the hospital before passing away from cancer.
“My sister was a respected nurse at Heritage Valley for 32 years, and also a patient as she battled cancer. My family has seen nursing in this hospital from both sides, and we expect that the quality standards will not be diminished.”
“Nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver who are on strike for better staffing and affordable care have my full support,” said Mike Rossi, who is running for PA state representative against Jim Christiana. “Our district needs more jobs with fair pay and good benefits, and we’re looking at Heritage Valley to lead by example and get back to the bargaining table with these nurses.”
“The nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver are fighting to provide affordable, quality healthcare to our communities, neighbors and loved ones,” said Erin McClelland, candidate for U.S. Congress in the twelfth district. “In the greatest nation on Earth, access to good healthcare should not just be a privilege for the wealthy, it is a fundamental human right for every American. And I am so proud to stand with these nurses in the fight to maintain that right for this and future generations of Americans.”
The nurses aim to get back to the negotiating table and work out an agreement with management that moves patient care forward and maintains affordable healthcare for nurses.
“Our hospital is doing well financially – it’s in better shape than it was three years ago, when we reached an agreement that kept affordable healthcare and maintained staffing,” said Jill Richner, RN and a chapter Vice President. “We’re committed to finding a fair agreement with management that doesn’t move nurses backward while our health system continues to grow and thrive.”
“The nurses who are on the frontline of growing Heritage Valley deserve to move forward too,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania,. “Nurses want a fair contract that ensures the safest possible care for their patients and ensures access to affordable healthcare so nothing stands in the way of nurses getting the timely care they need. As the largest employer in Beaver County – and as a healthcare provider, the hospital should set a high standard for good jobs and quality care.”
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 for all Pennsylvanians.