A strike vote looms for hundreds of area nurses whose contract runs out in only three days.
The 800 registered nurses at UPMC Altoona, members of SEIU Healthcare, say they don't want to strike, although they authorized their bargaining committe to send a strike notice if they're not able to reach a contract.
Both sides met Tuesday and plan to get together every day including Friday to try to reach an agreement. Members of the nurses bargaining committee told WTAJ that the session, the 21st since talks began, lasted only about a hour, and involved very little give and take.
Union Chapter President Paula Stellabotte said UPMC isn't budging on its proposal to freeze or reduce wages and benefits, in order to standardize them with what its RNs earn in Pittsburgh.
Stellabotte said, "they want to move everything backwards and if you do that, we're not going to be able to retain the good nurses we have with experience, and we're not going to be competitive in the area to recruit."
Chapter Secretary-Treasurer Sue Delozier said the proposed financial package would be costly for nurses, currently on staff. "If you figure it out," she said, "it depends on how many hours you work, it can be up to $10,000 a year less, that you would be making."
In response, a spokesman for UPMC Altoona said, "we are proposing the same programs that UPMC has in place for more than 60,000 employees, including more than 11,000 nurses. The hospital will continue to bargain in good faith, and we are hopeful we can reach an agreement this week."