Temple University Hospital employees, represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff and Allied Professionals and Temple Allied Professionals, picketed in front of the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 15.
The picket came after 95 percent of union members voted on Oct. 12 to strike if contract negotiations continued with hospital leadership. The Union has been in negotiations since Sept. 30th and are demanding better pay, more security at the hospital and an end to short staffing.
TUH leadership wants to avoid a strike, but would work to provide care to patients in the event of a strike, 6ABC News reported.
The demonstration featured speeches from PASNAP including Mary Adamson, president of the Temple University Hospital Nurses Association. State Senators Sharif Street (D-03) and Nikil Saval (D-01) and State Rep. Chris Rabb (D-200) were also in attendance.
Other unions and political organizations like Socialist Alternative, The Democratic Socialists of America and Temple University Graduate Students Association showed their support for Temple nurses at the rally.
Maryanne Holsworth, the membership secretary for TUHNA, said in her speech that TUH needs to recognize that their nurses are a necessity.
“We work in the roughest, roughest place in the city, and this population needs us more now than ever,” Holsworth said. “In order for us to be here we need to be compensated, we need to be treated with the respect that we have earned.”
Daisy Reyes, a PASNAP member and an employee of TUH for 22 years, voted in favor of a 10-day strike during Wednesday’s vote in support of increased pay and safe staffing, Reyes said.
Adamson said that TUH employees are overworked and understaffed.
“Well, every single shift, every single shift every day and every night, we don’t have enough support to do what we need,” Adamson said. “And we don’t have enough nurses to take care of the patients in a timely manner.”
TAP Union President Carlos Aviles and TAP Community and Political Chair Selena Hodge expressed concerns about the personal safety of workers at TUH.
“Maybe, just maybe, you might be able to walk from the parking lot to work and not get robbed and not get assaulted and have the hospital care for your safety instead of pretend,” Aviles said.
Hodge, a point of care medical laboratory technologist at TUH, believes Allied Security isn’t providing adequate security of the hospital and wants TUPD to prioritize safety near the hospital.
Hodge believes TUH plans to move the Women’s Health Services Center to 1331 East Wyoming Avenue this year will deprive the area of necessary healthcare for women as health risks could emerge if an ambulance is delayed in reaching a patient, Hodge said.
TUGSA, who is also in negotiations with the Temple administration, attended the rally to support PASNAP at the picket line. Evan Kassof, a 2021 music composition doctorate alumnus and TUGSA staff organizer, saw parallels in how Temple University’s administration treats its bargaining units.
“I think Temple as an employer is very kind of peculiar and specific about making it as hard as possible for unions to advocate for their members, and then treating their employees as bad as they can and get away with it,” Kassof said.
Street worries staffing levels at the hospital are not high enough to treat patients and the potential ramifications.
“That the staffing levels don’t allow the appropriate response time, and or that it could if there’s fluctuations, that staffing they’re not gonna they won’t be able to respond to influx that somebody could die because there’s inadequate staffing,” Street told The Temple News.
Saval called on the university administration to negotiate with them and respect their employees in his speech.
“I’ll be with you of course, every day, every time that it matters, every moment that you need me I’ll be there, I like you and sick of it, enough is enough.” Saval said. “You deserve respect, you deserve respect, safe staffing, it’s basic, it’s simple. It’s about safety.”
Adamson ended the event by calling on hospital administration to respect the concerns of union members.
“But at the negotiating table we show them, they are not honorable,” Adamson said. “All they care about is profit.”
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