An informational protest by nearly 125 ACMH technicians and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) at the beginning of the month initially led to some progressive bargaining, but things have since changed course.
Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals union officials announced yesterday that a one-day strike over unfair labor practices and ongoing bargaining issues has been scheduled to begin at 7AM Tuesday, March 31.
According to union officials, hospital administrators have informed union representatives that they intend to lock out staff for two additional days – causing the union to pursue charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
The technicians and LPNs voted overwhelmingly to join the union in June, and have had 25 bargaining sessions with hospital administrators since August.
The informational picket March 4 at the hospital entrance and close to the emergency room doors led both sides to ‘return to the table’ twice – including just a few days later – , but ACMH officials have reportedly refused to negotiate any improvements to staffing – the issue at the center of union members’ concerns.
Union Co-President Angelique Richards said earlier this month after the first of the two bargaining sessions that staff members have “a huge community support.”
“When someone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder doesn’t get their treatments, they slowly suffocate,” Richards, a respiratory therapist, said in a news release. “That wouldn’t happen if they were getting the treatments that the doctors have ordered.
How am I supposed to choose between which patient gets a treatment when I’m too short staffed to care for all of my patients? I’m not God. How am I supposed to make a decision in a dangerous situation like this?”
According to the union, the hospital has continued to commit unfair labor practices against the technicians and LPNs, even within the few days since the union delivered the 10-day strike notice. Such new charges will also be filed against the hospital will soon be filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
PASNAP Staff Representative Curtis Dahn and lead negotiator for the union denounced ACMH’s approach to bargaining.
“ACMH should recognize and respect the dedicated Techs and LPNs who work tirelessly and under often-difficult conditions to care for their patients and their community, stop ignoring their concerns for patient safety, and stop making illegal and retaliatory changes to their working conditions,” Dahn said.
The hospital has so far refused to meet again before the scheduled strike, despite the union’s repeated offers to do so. A mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is involved with the negotiations.
Future bargaining sessions are currently scheduled for the first two Thursdays of April – April 2 and 9 – and the last Friday of the month – April 24.
“We’re hoping that we can really sit down and put our heads together between us and management, and get what needs to be done done. I wish we could get this taken care of as fast as possible – the safety of the patients is directly related to the under-staffing we feel is occurring,” Richards said earlier this month.