Nearly 800 nurses were on a picket line Tuesday in Pennsylvania. The nurses work at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, near Philadelphia, and they say they are walking off the job to fight for their patients.
At issue is the hospital’s contract with the nurse’s union. The nurses want a new contract with higher wages and safeguards for patient safety.
The nurses say they are caring for more patients during the coronavirus pandemic than they should, and that is putting patients at risk.
“Safe staffing is the main issue in our negotiation--it's why we organized last year in the first place,” says Kathy McKamey R.N., who works on St Mary's MG2 unit and has been at the hospital for 10 years, said in a statement provided by the union.
The hospital’s owner, Trinity Health, said the union rejected a contract last week that included higher wages.
Hospitals in the Philadelphia area told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they would hire replacement nurses to work if the union goes on strike.
"We respect the union members’ right to strike, and we remain committed to negotiating in good faith to reach agreement on a fair, consistent and sustainable initial contract for St. Mary nurses. We look forward to the day productive negotiations can resume," said a statement from Trinity Health.
The nurses say their strike will continue Wednesday if necessary.