Health workers union votes to authorize strike

A group of healthcare workers file into the convention center on Broad Street near Arch Wednesday afternoon before deciding whether they'd go on strike. (Phillip Lucas/Daily News)
A group of healthcare workers file into the convention center on Broad Street near Arch Wednesday afternoon before deciding whether they'd go on strike. (Phillip Lucas/Daily News)
Posted: June 14, 2012

Health care workers from AFSCME 1199 voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize union leaders to call a strike if a contract settlement can't be reached by July 1.

Members met and rallied at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Wednesday before demonstrating outside Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on 11th Street between Chestnut and Walnut.

The union, which represents nurses aides, food service workers and custodians among others, is engaged in contract negotiations with hospitals including Jefferson, Hahnemann Hospital, Temple, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Henry Nicholas, president of the union's local chapter, said employers are looking to impose cuts to hourly wages between $5 and $7 per hour against certain employees. Other members said they were unhappy with proposed benefit packages and pension programs.

"And none of those changes were acceptable to the union," Nicholas said. "Although we've made significant progress at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Temple, we are far, far, far from any major movements at Hahnemann and at Jefferson."

The demonstration took protesters past Hahnemann Hospital to the Convention Center, and ended with a rally in front of Jefferson University Hospital after the vote.

Contact Phillip Lucas at 215-854-5914, lucasp@phillynews.com, or follow @UnPhiltered on Twitter.

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