Nurse strike ends after 28 days

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals went back to work April 30 after spending hours at the negotiating table.

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TTN File Photo/Keith Freeman Nurses and supporters demonstrate outside Temple Hospital during the course of the nearly month-long strike. As of Friday, all union employees returned to work.

After 28 days on strike, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the union representing the nurses at Temple University Hospital, returned to work April 30. Before they returned, PASNAP members met outside the hospital to symbolically return together.

“We are returning to work just as we left – together. We are even more unified now than when the strike began,” Jackie Silver, president of the professional and technical union, said. “At the ratification meetings, in which over 1,000 members voted to accept the new contract, we spontaneously decided that we wanted to re-enter the workplace in a show of our strength and determination to continue advocating for our patients and our professions.”

PASNAP nurses began striking March 31 as a result of unsuccessful contract negotiations. Early last week, TUH and PASNAP officials began holding lengthy negotiations, some sessions spanning more than 18 hours in length and ending for only a few only hours before officials returned to the negotiating table.

According to the union, most elements of what hospital officials called their “last, best and final offer” were withdrawn in the final agreement. The non-disparagement clause, or “gag clause,” however, was removed prior to the strike, when TUH agreed to eliminate its non-disparagement clause under the agreement that the rest of the contract would be implemented.

PASNAP said the elimination of the “gag clause” preserves the employees’ right to engage in public advocacy.

Additionally, the union-reported provisions that intended to weaken the two unions were removed, including “Temple’s proposals to eliminate ‘union shop’ and to separate the RN and professional/technical unions.”

“In approving the new contract agreements, we are pleased to have achieved our priorities through principled negotiations – including wage increases consistent with market realities, including a zero increase in the first-year of the contracts, implementation of health benefits and associated employee contributions consistent with other employee groups and random drug testing across all employee groups under the jurisdiction of PASNAP. We are equally pleased to offer a modified dependent-tuition benefit that applies to all of our employees whose children will be attending Temple University. TUH continues to meet its stewardship obligation to provide uninterrupted quality care to our patients,” Interim CEO of TUH Sandy Gomberg said.

The tuition remission benefit, which Temple discontinued last Spring, “will be restored for the employees for up to six credits per semester during the life of the contract, despite assertions by Temple management that they would no longer provide any dependent tuition benefit,” PASNAP said. “This benefit will actually be extended to all Temple Health System employees, not just PASNAP-represented employees, which is a major victory for all employees in the system.”

Valerie Rubinsky can be reached at valerie.rubinsky@temple.edu.

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