Labor Lives! Nurses Take To The Streets Over Contract Proposals

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A crowd of nearly 200 nurses and their supporters took the streets of Beaver yesterday, following a rally held at the courthouse over stalled contract negotiations with Heritage Valley Health Systems.

Defying both pouring rain and heat, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) were joined by representatives of the United Steelworkers, Association of Letter Carriers, and the NAACP, as they at times blocked traffic while marching their way around Third Street in Beaver. Motorists appeared mostly supportive of the spectacle, honking their horns in solidarity and taking fliers being passed through windows by nurses.

The nurses are working under a contract that expires on Sunday, and have been unable to reach an agreement with management despite extensive negotiations. The union says management wants to freeze wages, dramatically increase healthcare costs, rotate nurses into units where they lack expertise or experience, and decrease staffing to levels that could adversely impact patient care.

“I work on the hospital’s psychiatric unit,” nurse Mimi Tambellini told the crowd. “It’s not always the safest place to work. Days can suddenly erupt into violence. Yet we only have 3 nurses on a shift to take care of 32 patients. But really, one nurse is responsible for passing meds for all 32 patients, so I usually end up responsible for 16 patients myself, psychiatric patients.”

“We started these negotiations asking for just one more nurse so we’d have 10 patients each instead of 16,” Tambellini continued. “That’s still a lot of patients for one nurse, but we know these are challenging times. We’re not being unreasonable. We’re trying to make our unit safer and better for both patients and nurses … But one more nurse was too much for Heritage Valley management. They think the current staff is fine even though nurses and patients have been assaulted on our unit.”

Others echoed Tambellini’s concerns, saying nurses are being stretched too thin, and are being forced into unfamiliar units to provide care for patients with medical conditions they are unaccustomed to treating.

Commissioner Joe Spanik also spoke during the rally, warning if something is not done Heritage Valley may end up facing the same problems as Friendship Ridge. “I am asking the management of Heritage Valley to come to the table,” said Spanik. “We are going to lose that hospital, we’re going to lose it,” he later added.

Zach Zobrist, Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union Healthcare PA, led the group as they began to march after the rally. “When patient safety is under attack, what do we do,” shouted Zobrist. “We stand up and fight back,” the nurses chanted. Other chants heard during the march included “Be fair to those who care,” and “We care about your care.”

The SEIU, representing more than 500 registered nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver, has voted to authorize a strike if an agreement can not be reached soon.

 

23 comments

  1. Thanks JP for the great article and pictures. hopefully the general public will understand what the Nurses at Heritage Valley are truly up against, these are challenging times for everyone, especially with the Affordable care act coming on-line in 2014, all of the medical professionals are going to be stretched to their limits.

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  2. While I support the nurses and think they should be taken care of, health care providers should not strike. When you choose to be a healthcare professional, you are committing to taking care of human beings. You are responsible for lives. You are not some unskilled ditch digger who can throw down their shovel and walk away. While you may be justified in your desire to strike, doing so violates all of the tennants of the position of being a healthcare provider entails. True professionals do not desert their patients. If you want the respect garnered on the healing arts, acting like unskilled union labor will not work. Hope both sides can come to an agreement so as to preserve continuity of care and preserve the dignity of the health system/patient bond.

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  3. The unions got EXACTLY what they voted for! Now SHUT UP and go back to work!

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  4. It’s about time that the Unions took a stand against these employers trying to make money hand over fist without giving anything back to the employees. Everyone thinks that they need to work stop complaining. Well, whenever their lives are in danger because they do not have proper staffing and have no way to be protected at the hospital from these situations, things need to change. Heritage Valley has outsourced many jobs at their campuses, and caused hundreds of people who have been there for years to lose their jobs and brought in sup-par replacements that can’t do the job. These people need to stick together and fight for what is right. They need to be compensated and given adequate help to SAFELY handle all situations that arise there. Since security has been outsourced to the new powder blue hall monitors that work there now, there has been many instances where nurses and EMS have had to subdue and control out of control and hostile patients because security is not ALLOWED by their company’s rules. Some ER staff has even been injured and put off work for months due to sustaining injuries dealing with a combative psychiatric patient who came into the ER. Things need to change and they need to change now.

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  5. Patients and patience are not interchangeable words. It would also be refreshing to see both sides of the story.

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  6. They are threatening to strike. That was the gist of my comment, Regular guy. I totally agree with their protests and informational picketing, but walking off the job as a caregiver is just wrong.

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  7. Any question why the cost of medical care is so high??? Read this article. This union keeps demanding more, more,more. Obamacare is going to break all of us, and the nurses union will make treatment so costly that we’ll be in some pauper’ s facility for treatment.

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  8. I had the displeasure of being with a patient off and on from November to January and I could see the tremendous amount of work being done by nurses. To even think what may not have been done had I not been there to help makes me shudder, Also, the thought that someone without thorough training would be expected to go “wherever” in another department should make your skin crawl……do you not see the problems already and add that factor to it???? Quit having senseless remodeling done all the time…..the out patient check-in cubbyhole by the cancer center is a joke and no privacy there as well as the wasted entrance with a piano…..please…..common sense…. :cry: :omg:

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  9. I do not have all of the facts to take a side on this issue, however, SEIU workers, how does it feel to have your dues go to fund the installation of Obamacare? The system that is partially responsible for your plight. Your organization made sure Obama was elected and then Obama said F-You! You should question all moneys given to politics from your organization, it comes back in different ways.

    I would like to see the other side of the story.

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    • These health care union people have no CLUE what they did to themselves when they supported and voted not once, but TWICE for Obama and his health care killing bill that is called “The AFFORDABLE Health Care Act”! To all you people that supported this debacle, when Queen Pelosi said “We have to pass it first, to see what’s in the bill…”, THAT was the BIGGEST RED FLAG in the history of the U.S. And you people ate that up like a ham sandwich! So, like I said before, You got EXACTLY what you voted for.

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      • Could NOT have said it better. You hit the nail on the head. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that 90% of them voted for Obama. They are so thoroughly brainwashed that they still think he’s wonderful. It’s sad.

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  10. Well said Oh brother. The liberals just made America commit suicide. Obama got these people free phones though…..Thanks Obama Bin Laden.

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    • a real regular guy

      The free phone program started in 1984 under that Conservative Hero Ronnie Raygun. It was for a landline so that every household had a means of calling 911. That program was expanded under George W (as in W)MD) Bush to include cell-phones
      There was not a lot of publicity on the cell-phones until Trac-phone and Virgin Mobile started advertising. These phones are paid for by the phone companies….NO TAX DOLLARS ARE USED….So please quit calling them Obamaphones and called them what they are W-phones. For more information on this program look in a Verizon phone book under setting up service and you will find the Lifeline progra0m

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    • Those phones and phone service are paid for by people who actually pay for their cell phone service. That is what that tax on there is for that nobody knows what the hell it is for. My bill calls it the “Federal Universal Service Fund”. Obama expanded this program for nothing more than votes. I’m sure this program had good intentions until the democrats figured out they could get millions of votes for another program they could abuse on the backs of the working man AGAIN! Yep, their for the “Working Guy”. Right?

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      • a real regular guy

        Obama and the Democrats did not expand this program….This program, when it was landline only had the same requirements in the 80s….George WMD Bush expanded the program…Because the advertising increased recently everyone thinks the program has changed…the original qualifications were being on food stamps or a medical card….same as it is now.

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  11. Concerned nurse

    WTG union sisters and brothers!!! :lol:

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  12. Sorry but both sides of the political aisle fucked things up, its more than obamacare, and fancy Nancy, the other side has gutted funding and reimbursements too, dem president and Republican controlled Congress.

    The state is worse we got well they got themselves out of office Veon and deweese after they used taxdollars for pay bonuses….then it got us Republican Marshall lol he only supports democrats and unions ohh and nra, Christiana is causing school taxes to go through roof with six figure donations from charter schools and his campaign finance report is littered with old democratic boys club members they bought his ass before he got his first plastic surgery appointment, vogel may be only decent one and Matzie.

    Hey let’s vote for Casey he did a lot as state treasurer lol lol and we know his dads name from being governor lol that makes great united states senator.

    Federal level has been fucked since we bored out Melissa hart when bush fucked country up, do blow me on bashing Obama… Bush sent thousands to die and his boys made millions, we vote or santourum cause his dumb ass starting preaching religion at podium, yep his fault but he was third highest ranked in the senate good job.

    And then people jerked off for Corbett well you see what that got you, Onarato would of been great for state and huge for western Penn he got last laugh he lost and got job for 900k a year with Georg care company

    But let’s worry about fighting for courthouse seats That truly must don’t impact shit but a few , that takes priory and not beaver county, I blame both sides

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  13. Betty peters RN

    What the hell is management thinking!!!their not!!! I support the nurses at HVB 100 percent Wake up management or you will have big problems!!! We have licenses to protect !! And more important patients !!!!

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  14. Looks like a gay pride parade to me.

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  15. This article is about nurses serving notice of a possible strike concerning insufficient patient care, staff shortages and being assigned to units without proper training, but here we go again.

    All of a sudden, the world is coming to an end because of “Obamacare” and the filthy liberals. Then there’s that not-so-hidden code word – “free phones”. What do free-phones have to do a nurse’s strike? Take your dog-whistle somewhere else.

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  16. I think they signed

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