PASNAP representatives and hospital administrators met Friday to negotiate a new contract but were unsuccessful.
As the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals approaches its third week on strike, no agreement has been reached. The most recent negotiation took place the afternoon of Friday, April 16 and failed to yield a contract to which both parties agreed.
PASNAP, the union representing the Temple University Hospital nurses, began striking March 31 as a result of unsuccessful contract negotiations.
“It is disappointing to us that, once again, PASNAP leadership has refused to recognize the economic and market realities that support our last, best and final offer,” TUH Interim CEO Sandy Gomberg said in a statement. “Instead, PASNAP offered a comprehensive off-the-record proposal that was too far apart from our implemented last, best and final offer.”
When PASNAP went on strike, TUH implemented the conditions of its “last, best and final offer,” and said nurses who have returned to work since the strike began are doing so under those conditions, which include: a 4 percent wage increase over three years, additional automatic “step” increases from 2 percent to 10 percent based on years of experience, a choice of three healthcare packages which TUH provides its non-union employees, employee tuition reimbursement without reimbursement for dependents of employees and bonuses of up to $2,000 a year for nursing certifications.
“After working for several hours, the union bargaining committee put together a comprehensive proposal to reach an agreement and end the strike. The union committee floated proposals on health care co-payments, wages and the tuition reimbursement policy, amongst others. Temple’s representatives took five minutes to look at the proposal and said they would make no compromises whatsoever in order to settle the strike,” read a PASNAP press release.
“The Temple University Trustees, including trustees appointed by elected officials, now have a duty to step in to do whatever is necessary to settle this strike,” Executive Director of PASNAP Bill Cruice said.
“Temple is squandering $5 million a week of taxpayer money on their strikebreaker operation,” Cruice said, “substantially more than what it would take to settle this strike.”
In addition to unsuccessful contract negotiations over the weekend, PASNAP has called for review of Health Source Global Staffing, the company providing replacement nurses to TUH during the strike.
Regarding the letter from City Controller Alan Butkovitz to Gomberg, Cruice said, “Because of Health Source Global Staffing’s questionable record, we have asked Temple to fully disclose proof that the replacement workers in the hospital are properly licensed and competent to care for our patients. Now, an independent review by the City Controllers’ office has found that HSGS and Temple appear to be violating multiple city laws including obligations under the business licensing and wage tax. While this can be expected from HSGS, we urge Temple to cease squandering millions in taxpayer dollars on this discredited company and instead make a reasonable offer to the dedicated nursing and professional staff.”
After sending the letter, TUH released a statement, saying, “We have responded to the City Controller’s request for information, advising him that all temporary workers of HealthSource Global Staffing, Inc., are their employees, and, as such, HealthSource Global is responsible for complying with all city requirements.”
“We have shared the contents of the City Controller’s letter with HealthSource Global, and have been advised that they are following up on the issues raised in that letter,” TUH added.
Over the weekend, PASNAP reported that a hospital patient came to the picket line complaining of inadequate nursing care. Yesterday, in response, the union filed a report with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
“The management of Temple has been misleading this community by insisting everything is fine when clearly it is not,” Cruice said. “There are many reports indicating that the hospital did not fully prepare for the strike or recruit enough qualified staff.”
Gomberg said TUH’s priority remains providing uninterrupted quality care to their patients.
Members of the union, as well as supporters, continue to picket outside the Temple Hospital at Broad and Ontario streets, chanting “What’s disgusting? Union Busting” and “No contract no peace.”
Valerie Rubinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.