ALTOONA — UPMC Altoona has released the following statement regarding the SEIU strike notice.
“UPMC Altoona is disappointed to learn that SEIU Healthcare PA, the union that represents our registered nurses, has said it intends to strike for 24 hours beginning on Feb. 11. We believe that our last, best and final offer, which the union failed to ratify, is fair to our nurses and financially prudent for the hospital.
“While an agreement could be reached before that date, we must and will be prepared for all contingencies.
“In the event of a strike, UPMC Altoona’s primary concern will be to continue providing high quality health care services to our patients in a comfortable and safe environment. We will do that regardless of circumstances.
“We have been working diligently for some time to be prepared for a strike by our RNs, and we plan to continue all services without interruption, including inpatient care and all out-patient testing, surgeries, and procedures. The Surgery Center and Station Medical Center will operate as usual, as will the Emergency Department and Trauma Service.
“The hospital will be fully staffed with Pennsylvania-licensed registered nurses who embody the high standards our patients expect and deserve. These registered nurses are experienced, highly qualified, and specially trained.
“UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider that is currently ranked No. 10 in the nation and No. 1 Pennsylvania by the U.S. News & World Report ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ list.
“In these negotiations, we are proposing the same programs that other UPMC hospitals have in place for more than 62,000 employees, including more than 11,000 nurses. Our proposal of pay and benefits is very competitive in our markets, and with this proposal we expect that, like other UPMC hospitals, UPMC Altoona will be able to successfully recruit and retain top talent in health care with a package that is also affordable for the future.
“UPMC employee benefits include medical, prescription, dental, vision, short-term disability, long-term disability, life insurance, pension, matched savings, paid time-off, tuition, and many other elements.
“This package both enhances and reduces current benefits for some of our existing employees. This is an expected part of a successful organization that offers comprehensive compensation packages in the midst of a challenging economic environment.
“SEIU members at Mount Nittany recently ratified a three-year contract with the same wage increases— a 2 percent raise in each year of a three-year contract. Nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver recently signed a new contract with its union that provides for no base salary increases.
“Our RNs’ latest wage proposal was a 7 percent increase each year of a three-year contract.
“The hospital has done everything reasonable to find common ground and reach an agreement with the SEIU.”
Since its last statement, the hospital has released another one. It reads:
“The SEIU has resorted to charges of unfair labor practices in an attempt [to] characterize UPMC as unwilling to bargain, when in fact, the hospital has done everything reasonable to find common ground and reach an agreement with the SEIU. For the SEIU, this is no longer about organizing employees or negotiating for their represented members, but rather about creating a media spectacle to advance its political goals.”