After months of working without a contract and with negotiations at a stand still, Temple University Hospital nurses and allied professionals are planning to strike at 7 a.m.
Talks between the two parties have come to a halt after the nurses union and Temple officials couldn’t come to an agreement about some key parts of a new proposed contract. The union of 1,500 voted to strike Monday night.
“There’s a lot of issues but it’s not primarily the money that is the factor, it’s the general disrespect,” said Fran Bosack, an R.N. at Temple.
The union, which has been without a contract since late September 2009, wants new provisions for tuition reimbursement for their children and spouses -- which they say has been taken away all together -- fixes in weekend pay differences and up to a 4-percent increase in pay over four years.
Temple nurses make an average of $39.80 an hour, which the hospital says is among the highest wages in the region. The hospital says such large increases in the current economy is impossible.
"We have a zero percent increase in the first year and then a two, two and two and a half percent increase as proposed," Temple Health CEO Sandy Gomberg said Tuesday.
They are also fighting a so-called gag clause that will prevent employees from speaking negatively about the health system or its management.
Temple has stated that there is no gag clause in the contracts and that the final contract offer made is fair and reasonable.
“Our Non-Disparagement clause is designed to prevent the union or anyone representing the union -- not employees -- from making statements that disparage this hospital or its management officers," Temple officials said in a press release. "The proposed clause in no way prevents any employee from fulfilling their role as patient advocate.”
Gomberg has assured the public that patients will continue to receive the utmost care and safety measure will be taken to ensure that their loved ones will be able to visit without any hassles during the strike.
The health system says its 400 doctors and 3,000 additional employees not affected by the strike will be able to fill in for a nurse shortage. Those employees include temporary workers and management staff, the hospital says.
There is no word yet as to how long the potential strike may last or if Temple University Hospital will change their latest offer to the union.