Regional Hospital Workers Set Strike Date

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SCRANTON -- The union representing nearly all of the employees at Regional Hospital of Scranton has issued a strike notice, threatening to walk picket lines in two weeks.

The union says 800 workers would be off the job for one day if negotiations can't produce a new contract.

"I hope everyone will stand with us."

That was the plea from a group of workers outside Regional Hospital of Scranton. They and around 800 other union members at the former Mercy Hospital have issued a strike notice.  They say negotiations have produced no contract.

"When a person has a partnership, nine months later you have a beautiful happy baby and here we are nine months later and we're still overdue," said registered nurse Michel Lipperini.

The one-day strike would include nurses, technicians, food service staff and many others, leaving the hospital without nearly all of its employees November 13.  That's if negotiations don't work.

"We're not getting anywhere and we're obviously getting frustrated if we're getting to this point where we're voting for a strike," said registered medical technologist Cathy Williams.

Williams says she's frustrated with the hospital's proposed raise of around one percent and increased healthcare contributions.

"If you're not offering competitive wages, you're not getting good staff, you're not maintaining good staff."

Some of the sticking points in negotiations are salary and health care but another big one is outsourcing.  Right now outsourcing is not allowed, but the union is concerned the hospital wants to farm out some tasks to other companies and get rid of jobs.

"Being here so long, you get a lot of experience, you know how to treat the patients.  We're all like a family.  It's a scary thing," said food service worker Eileen Harris.

Harris has been in food services for 38 years.  The hospital hasn't said it plans to outsource, but she fears if the contract allows it, it will happen so the union says it will keep fighting.

"You keep qualified experienced people in the hospital, you make it a better hospital, definitely," Lipperini added.

Regional Hospital of Scranton issued a statement late Wednesday.

A spokesperson says the hospital hasn't received an official strike notice from the union yet. He says quality patient care will continue regardless of the union's plans and said the hospital hopes an agreement can be reached with the union.