Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Labor, Community Supporters Striking Temple Nurses

Labor, community supports striking Temple nurses

By Betsey Piette
Published Apr 25, 2010 7:40 PM

On April 21, a very spirited rally by more than 1,200 striking nurses, professional staff and their family members and other supporters gathered outside Temple University Hospital, as the nurses’ strike that began on March 31 entered its fourth week.

The rally showed the largest outpouring of labor support to date for the strike, which is being led by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. PASNAP members from two other area hospitals were there, as well as union representatives from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Councils 33 and 47; Service Employees union; Teamsters union; International Union of Operating Engineers and International Electrical Workers union.

Also attending were members of the American Federation of Teachers; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers; Steamfitters Local 420; Steel Workers union; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers; Communication Workers union; International Electrical Workers union; Brotherhood of Railroad Maintenance Workers; Transport Workers Union; Food and Commercial Workers union; National Nurses United; AFL-CIO; and the Fire Fighters Union. Many unions presented donations to the strike fund.

Students from Temple University spoke to express their support. Many community and progressive groups were there, including Jobs with Justice, Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health, Industrial Workers of the World, NAACP, Bail Out the People Movement, Workers World Party, International Action Center and Healthcare-NOW!

After they circled the hospital twice in a very militant picket line, the strikers gathered across from a hospital entrance as at least eight coach buses, paid for by TUH, stopped to unload and pick up strikebreakers for a shift change. For more than 30 minutes the striking workers, family members and supporters confronted these well-paid scabs with chants of “Scabs go home” and “Shame on you” as the strikebreakers entered and left the hospital.

PASNAP leaders announced a victory for the workers, although not directly related to contract negotiations. Earlier that day the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court had denied TUH’s request for a stay on paying tuition reimbursements to the nurses while the hospital is appealing a decision by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. The board had ruled against the hospital’s cutting of this benefit last year with no notice. In two weeks, TUH must pay everyone who is eligible.

As the strike enters week four TUH’s management has now squandered well over $9 million to pay strikebreakers — more money than all of the additional costs of the entire four-year contract proposed by the nurses and allied professionals.

Donations for the striking nurses can be sent to PASNAP, 1 Fayette St. Ste. 475, Conshohocken PA l9428.
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