Negotiators for Indiana Regional Medical Center met last night with PSEA/IRNA representatives for their 20th bargaining session since negotiations began in early August 2018 and their 6th since PSEA/IRNA took its members out on strike.
Hospital Spokesman Mark Richards said IRMC reminded PSEA/IRNA that its current economic proposals will remain available through January 31, 2019, provided that the union membership ratifies a new collective bargaining agreement by then and that IRMC does not incur any additional costs related to another strike prior to that date.
Richards said the economic proposals included a three year wage total wage increase of 6%, with a 3% wage increase in the first year; and increases in employee health care contributions that would bring the union members’ contributions in line with the rest of the Hospital. If the union membership does not ratify a new collective bargaining agreement by January 31 or if the union engages in another strike IRMC’s economic proposals will be modified to recoup costs that IRMC had to incur as a result of PSEA/IRNA’s strike, which will include a wage freeze for the union nurses.
“PSEA/IRNA is not understanding the operating realities of what’s ahead for IRMC and rural hospitals in terms of either survival or independence,” Richards said in a news release. “The stakes for maintaining our independence are higher than ever, especially in the current environment where hospital closures and mergers are on the rise. This is a time for changing how we view IRMC’s viability and we must protect our future, the jobs we provide and, most importantly, our patients.”
Richards said that a recent Morgan Stanley report showed more than 15 percent of U.S. hospitals have weak financial metrics or are at risk of potential closure. Just this week, one Pennsylvania rural hospital announced its closing, and another could not make payroll. Morgan Stanley analyzed data from roughly 6,000 hospitals and found 600 of the hospitals were “weak” based on criteria for margins for earnings before interest and other items, occupancy and revenue, according to Bloomberg. The analysis revealed another 450 hospitals were at risk of potential closure, according to Business Insider. Pennsylvania is among six states with the highest concentration of
hospitals in the “at risk” pool, according to the report.