Nurses and other healthcare workers at Tyler Memorial Hospital were joined by patients, supporters, and candidates for local office on day one of a three-day strike to demand management address staffing and patient care concerns and settle a fair contract
TUNKHANNOCK, PA — On Wednesday, April 21st, caregivers at Tyler Memorial Hospital began a three-day unfair labor practices strike for better staffing and patient care. The hospital is owned by for-profit corporation Community Health Systems..
Workers gathered outside the hospital at 7am for a day filled with chanting, marching, picket lines and speakouts. The day will culminate with a candlelight vigil in which caregivers and supporters call on CHS to invest in the Tunkhannock community.
“The staff at Tyler wants to see our hospital succeed,” said Danielle Adams, a Nutritional Service Technician at Tyler and a member of the bargaining committee. “We want this to be a place we can feel proud of, and a hospital our patients trust to get the care they deserve. We want to come to work and know our rights won’t be violated. And we want a contract that raises the standard of care for Tunkhannock.”
At issue for workers are working conditions and wages that would help recruit and retain the most qualified people to work at Tyler. Caregivers are also calling for increased investment in their hospital by owners Community Health Systems, a Tennessee-based, for-profit corporation that has received more than $700 million in pandemic relief aid and made $1.6 billion in selling off hospitals just like Tyler — money that has gone to raises for executives instead of bedside care for patients.
“Through this pandemic, you are the essential frontline workers who showed up to take care of your community,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the union representing the 84 healthcare workers on strike.
“You did it without adequate PPE or the staff you needed. You did it in the face of fear, uncertainty, and illness. You did it for your patients, for your Tunkhannock community. Hospitals like Tyler are so essential to communities like yours.”
Tyler’s 84 union caregivers, including nurses, medical technologists, phlebotomists, radiology technicians, respiratory therapists, case managers, pharmacists, supply technicians, dietary aides, and housekeeping staff, have been without a contract since February 28. The decision to strike came after months of unproductive negotiations with management. Workers have filed an unfair labor practice charge against management for bargaining in bad faith.
The second day of their three-day strike will convene on Thursday at 7am. They will hold a press conference at 3pm featuring workers, elected officials, and other supporters.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare 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.