Temple Health Systems and PASNAP need to grow up and negotiate.
Temple nurses are going on strike over pay and a “gag clause,” and neither they nor Temple Hospital is negotiating maturely or with consideration for patients.
On March 19, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents about 1,500 nurses and technicians, set a strike deadline of March 31, this Wednesday. At issue are wages and a clause in the contract that would bar union workers from publicly criticizing the hospital administration.
The union, which represents about a third of the hospital’s employees, is half right and half wrong in its demands, and so is the hospital.
The gag clause is juvenile and counter-productive. The hospital looks as if it is an insecure boss avoiding criticism by stifling it. That won’t do any good. If nurses are unhappy or disgruntled, then not being allowed to vent or complain publicly isn’t going to fix the problem. What will stop nurses from turning to anonymous Web sites to complain, and how will that be less damaging?
The hospital needs to realize that stifling public criticism from its employees isn’t going to create a better environment. If employees complain without good reason, it should be easy for the hospital to refute their claims. If, on the other hand, a large group of employees brings up concerns it is having, then it may be a warning sign for the hospital to address the problem.
Conversely, hospital nurses need to settle on the pay issue. Their pay is similar to the employees of other city teaching hospitals, according to both union leaders and the hospital. Temporary workers are going to cost the university much more than the pay received by PASNAP members and will only hurt the care of patients, who should be the primary focus.
If PASNAP members really care about their patients – and we believe they do – they should accept the pay they now receive.
Both the union and the hospital claim to be looking out for the best interests of the patients, but their claims fall flat if this strike continues. The union is not looking out for patients by holding out on the pay issue, and the hospital isn’t going to help its patients by insisting on hushing its workers whenever they have a complaint.