CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Healthcare workers and supporters gathered outside The Meadows Psychiatric Center in Centre Hall on Wednesday afternoon, rallying for safer working conditions and a union to represent employees.

“We really care and are very invested, but when we felt like safety was starting to decline and our voices were not being heard by management when we were reaching out and asking for help, that’s when we decided we had to move on to try and do something else to help,” said Tami Kraynak, a registered nurse.

Tami Kraynak and her colleague Dawn Taylor said poor training and staffing shortages caused safety to slip through the cracks and have led to injuries on the job and reduced quality of care for patients.

“Sometimes it really just felt like it was a war zone and you just had to survive the shift,” said Taylor, a registered nurse.

With support from the Service Employees International Union, Kraynak and Taylor circulated a petition to unionize.

“We filed our petition on February 28 and they fired both of us on March 4,” said Kraynak. “In our termination letter it does say that we were fired due to unionizing activity.” 

Ultimately, Kraynak and Taylor said they just want everyone to be safe and to be heard.

“This should be a great place for people to come. This is a mental health unit right in our backyard,” said Taylor. “People are dealing with a lot of mental health right now, this should be an asset to our community and that’s what we want.” 

Both Kraynak and Taylor said they want to return to The Meadows supported by a union.

“Tami and I could have left and we could’ve gotten a nursing job anywhere and said, ‘Oh well, we tried,’ but we’re not leaving,” said Taylor. “We’re seeing this through. This is how strongly we feel about this.” 

The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing to decide if they are eligible for a union.

WTAJ has reached out to The Meadows for comment, but has not heard back at this time.