Hospital nurses near Philadelphia went on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, airing a grievance over working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, the nurses’ union said they were told they will now be locked out of their jobs through the end of the week. The 800 nurses are employed at the suburban St. Mary’s Medical Center.
One of the main sticking points is minimum staffing levels, which is the proportion of patients to nurses in a hospital.
“We tell Trinity we need more nurses, in large part because, as Trinity has acknowledged, we’re 15 years behind in wages, and they tell us they can’t afford to pay us a competitive wage,” says Jim Gentile, R.N., a surgical services nurse who has been at St. Mary for more than 35 years. “If they can’t find the money to recruit and retain more nurses, did they magically find several million dollars in the back of a drawer to pay the agency nurses?”
Hospitals in the Philadelphia area previously 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.