ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - Striking nurses and their allies lined the sidewalk in front of UPMC Altoona on Tuesday for a one-day unfair labor practices strike. They started at 7 am, some of them picketing in shifts, while others spent all day out in the frigid weather.
The registered nurses,members of SEIU Healthcare were joined by some of their counterparts from Valley View Nursing Home, Mount Nittany Medical Center, J.C. Blair Hospital, and Penelec Workers, who are locked out of their jobs.
UPMC Altoona said as of early Tuesday evening, 172 of their nurses had crossed the picket line, however union officials said 90 percent of their members had stayed off the job.
The hospital had brought in around 270 replacement nurses to fill in the gaps. Officials there said the hospital was running smoothly and commended the striking nurses for the professionalism and care with which they had handed over the patients before walking off the job.
The nurses say the main sticking points in the labor dispute are staffing guidelines and benefits.
UPMC Altoona says the two sides are still stuck on economic issues, with the nurses asking for more than the hospital can afford to give.
Nurses said they would be back on the job at 7 am on Wednesday, but the hospital said it would be transitioning them back to work and that they should wait to be notified.
Further talks between the two sides are scheduled for February 18, 19, and 20.