MNA Stands Behind 1,500 Striking Temple U. Hospital Nurses
Temple Tells Nurses: The Constitution Doesn't Apply to You
"If you want your constitutional rights, you need to go somewhere else." -Robert Birnbrauer, Human Resources, Temple University Hospital
A strike by 1500 nurses, healthcare professional and technical employees at Temple University Hospital represented by the Pennsylvania of Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals began on March 31 after months of bad faith negotiations by the hospital. The employees have been without a contract since its expiration on September 30, 2009, and rulings by the Pennsylvania Labor Board have demonstrated that the hospital has engaged in unfair labor practices.
Maureen May, RN, and president of the nurses' union at Temple, reports, "Despite good faith negotiations on the part of the Union that represents the nurses and professionals at Temple Administrators have clung to their unreasonable 'best and final offer.' The nurses and other professional staff voted to strike and are determined to do all that is necessary to convince Temple administrators that their hard line stance is bad for the hospital, bad for employees and most of all, bad for our patients."
Temple's offer contains a "gag clause" provision that would silence the nurses and healthcare professionals, taking away right to advocate for themselves and their patients. The clause, if implemented, would enable the employer to discipline or fire a healthcare professional who speaks out in ways the hospital deems "disparaging" of the institution.
The "gag clause" was debated in the last bargaining session, held on March 15. In response to one of the bargaining team member's concerns about this threat to her freedom of speech, a Temple Vice President stated, "If you want your Constitutional rights, you need to go somewhere else."
At the bargaining table Temple has:
- Proposed a ‘gag clause’ on any criticism of the Hospital, which would prevent us from exercising our ethical and legal responsibility to advocate for our patients interests
- Refused to discuss staffing levels, which we believe are often too low in the hospital to provide the best care on the nursing floors as well as in the critical supporting areas such as laboratory and Xray.
- Continued to insist on its right to assign staff to patients for whose condition we do not have the proper skills, and to reassign us to different patients during our shift, breaking the all-important continuity of care, which has a major effect of patient outcome
- Proposed to eliminate tuition benefits for our dependents, and reduce them for employees. This is part of a package of significant wage and benefit cuts which would make it impossible for Temple to hire the skilled and dedicated staff they need for one of the city’s most challenging Hospital workplaces. In addition, the hospital proposes to double and triple healthcare benefits for some employees, even though the hospital has lowered its healthcare costs by 10%.
The MNA strongly supports the Temple nurses and health professionals and will be sending members down to Philadelphia to walk the line with these courageous professionals, Their fight is our fight.
TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT TEMPLE NURSES!