Hundreds of UPMC Altoona RNs Strike for Patient Care and Job Standards (Press Release from Molly Rush)


PUSH founder Molly Rush has issued a press release discussing the plight of UPMC workers in Altoona. 

In February, Altoona Nurses took to the streets of Altoona and Pittsburgh by the hundreds—braving snow and freezing temps–to send UPMC a strong message: Patients before Profits!
Six months ago—after acquiring Altoona Regional Health System and becoming Blair County’s largest employer—UPMC promised a standard of excellence for Altoona patients, nurses and the community.[1]  Six months later, however, the story has changed.
During contract negotiations with unionized Altoona nurses, UPMC has pushed for a range of changes that would lower the quality of jobs, limit nurses right to advocate for adequate staffing and quality patient care, and refused the Union’s proposed training and partnership with management to help improve patient outcomes.
On Febuary 1st   UPMC walked away from negotiations, despite nurses’ commitment to continue discussions, so 800 nurses voted for a one-day unfair labor practice strike. [2]
And on Tuesday, February 11, hundreds of the Registered Nurses of UPMC Altoona took to the picket lines to advocate for good jobs and quality care for the Altoona community.[3]The sense of solidarity on the picket line was palpable. The nurses’ determination was fueled by the continual flow of cars honking their support, and the generous deliveries of food and coffee by local businesses. They marched and chanted through the snow until it was time for a candlelight vigil, to mark the seriousness of their protest.[4]
However when the nurses returned to work the next day—after 90% had participated in the one-day unfair labor practice strike the day prior—many were turned away.  Instead, UPMC is spending millions on expensive out-of-state temporary nurses. [5]
“UPMC says it does not have the resources to maintain our current contract, yet they can needlessly waste millions on temps,” said Paulla Stellabotte, RN.  “This clearly demonstrates UPMC’s misplaced priorities—wasting money rather than investing in the future of healthcare for our community.”[6]
But rather than take this lying down, and after 2 days of picketing in bitter cold, more than 100 nurses from UPMC’s Altoona hospital and their supporters[7] came to Pittsburgh to bring their concerns about staffing, benefits and patient care straight to “the boss” at UPMC corporate headquarters on Thursday, February 13th.  They roared down Grant Street with chants and pickets flying, making sure that Jeffery Romoff got the message loud and clear: Patients before Profits!



[1] Press Release, Feb 11 “Hundreds of UPMC Altoona RNs Begin One Day Unfair Labor Practice Strike…” (File Name: Press Release- STRIKE)
[2] Press Release, Feb 11 “Hundreds of UPMC Altoona RNs Begin One Day Unfair Labor Practice Strike…” (File Name: Press Release- STRIKE)
[3] Press Release, Feb 11 “Hundreds of UPMC Altoona RNs Begin One Day Unfair Labor Practice Strike…” (File Name: Press Release- STRIKE)
[4] Description from Karma Lord, who was present
[5] Press Release, Feb 12 “Registered Nurses at UPMC Altoona Return ….” (File name: Lockout Press Release)
[6] Press Release, Feb 12 “Registered Nurses at UPMC Altoona Return ….” (File name: Lockout Press Release)
[7] Press Release, Feb 13, “100+ Striking Nurses…”(File name: Press Release Altoona RN in Pittsburgh)

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