Philadelphia | April 9, 2016 — Citing grave concerns over staffing and other patient care conditions, more than 900 Registered Nurses at Einstein Medical Center voted to unionize in an election conducted Friday by the National Labor Relations Board. The vote was 463 to 343 in favor of joining PASNAP, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. Yesterday’s election marks the latest victory in a wave that has seen nearly 3,000 Philadelphia area nurses and healthcare professionals unionize with PASNAP in 2016 alone.
“Nurses are frustrated with this healthcare model that puts money first and people second. Even at nonprofit and community hospitals like Einstein, patients are getting the short end of the stick while CEOs and administrators are lavished with enormous salaries and big bonuses.” said Patty Eakin, a veteran Emergency Room nurse who serves as PASNAP president.
Hospital administrators aggressively fought the nurses’ effort to organize, spending millions of dollars on anti-union consultants and a divisive “Vote No” campaign. Nurses were pulled away from patients and forced into individual and group “captive audience” meetings, where anti-union consultants and executives sought to intimidate the nurses into ceasing their organizing project.
“It seemed like they were more concerned with spreading negativity about the union than addressing any of our concerns about staffing or quality of care,” said Johanna Camacho, an RN in the Maternity Unit. “I wish they would have used those resources differently — but at least now we’ll have a strong voice to negotiate improvements in staffing and other working conditions.”
“We all know that Einstein has a long history of service in this community. We want to provide the best quality of care to every individual that comes through our doors,” said Cynthia Gola, a nurse and union activist who works in the Coronary Care Unit. “I hope we can all come together now and work to resolve the issues that led us to organize. We’re trying to create positive change.”
In the coming weeks, nurses will elect a bargaining committee and begin developing proposals to address staffing, working conditions, hospital policies, and wages and benefits.
“Nurses in Philadelphia are standing up to say: Enough!” said Bill Cruice, PASNAP Executive Director. “At a time when hospital administrators seem to be prioritizing everything but the needs of direct care nurses, nurses are organizing to turn things around. Right now, throughout the Philadelphia area, nurses are negotiating to win improvements for themselves and their patients.”
PASNAP, which now represents 8,000 members, was founded in 2000 to specifically address the needs of bedside nurses and health professionals responsible for direct patient care.