TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP, WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — For a second day, workers are on strike at Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock. Today, they are getting attention from lawmakers at the state and national level.
Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted,
“I stand with the @seiuhcpa hospital workers in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania who are demanding safe staffing levels and patient care conditions. Community Health Systems should sit down with its workers and negotiate a fair contract.”@BernieSanders on Twitter
We spoke with State Representative Maureen Madden about why some lawmakers are joining the picket line.
A fair contract is exactly what these workers are asking for. The hospital’s 84 caregivers, represented by Service Employees International Union, have been without contract since February. Negotiations with the higher-ups are at a standstill.
“I’m proud to stand here today with you guys to move this forward and to get a fair contract. That’s all you’re asking for — a fair contract!” said Rep. Marty Flynn.
“We are going to be as relentless as the people who work for you who are demanding fair wages, safe working conditions,” said Rep. Maureen Madden.
Reps. Flynn and Madden joined nurses and other healthcare workers at Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock on Thursday. It’s the second day of their three-day strike for better staffing and patient care.
Nutritional service tech Danielle Adams says issues at the hospital include safety, staffing levels and recruiting and retaining qualified staff.
“It’s hard to hire qualified staff when you can make more money elsewhere,” she told us.
They also want the owners, Community Health Systems, to invest more in their hospital.
“This company made $1.6 billion last year, got an influx of $700 million of our taxpayer money and none of this trickled down to you,” said Flynn.
On Thursday, we reached out to the hospital for a response. So far, they have not commented on the ongoing contract negotiations but Wednesday, a spokeswoman told Eyewitness News:
“A contingency operations plan will be implemented, in the event the strike does occur, to ensure continuation of quality services. As always, our top priority is the care and safety of our patients, employees and visitors.”Community Health Systems
Madden says she hopes her support sends a strong message to the for-profit corporation.
“The community is going to know that they are not taking care of the people who work hardest to take care of their patients.”
Adams hopes the support from the community and their state representatives shows CHS how valuable they are to the area.
“We’re very important. We don’t have another hospital within 45 minutes to an hour of Tunkhannock and that’s crucial.”
Republican house lawmaker Karen Boback who represents Wyoming County was not available for comment. The hospital says it has brought in staff from other agencies to keep it running during the strike.