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Nurses on strike hold candlelight vigil outside UPMC Altoona

By: Lauren Hensley

ALTOONA Pa.--Dozens of nurses at University of Pittsburgh in Altoona are heading back into work tomorrow after a one day-day strike. The strike began on Tuesday morning when hundreds of hospital workers walked off the job. Workers held a candlelight vigil Tuesday night.

The union has been planning this strike for weeks after contract negotiations with UPMC Altoona fell apart.

Hundreds of nurses traded in their scrubs for winter jackets and American flags, striking after contract negotiations with the hospital fell flat. Paula Stellabotte is a nurse in the ICU and said she is fighting for more than her benefits but for the welfare of the entire community.

"Most of us were born and raised here and we've worked here for years. Our families use this hospital, our relatives built this hospital. It's our community and we want it to stay that way," Stellabotte said.

Striking nurses along with community supporters lined the streets in unity step-by-step. Nurses rejected what the hospital called its last, best and final offer in January.

"We've been here all day for this one day strike for our patients and for our community, standing up for what we believe is right for our patients, and for safe staffing guidelines," registered nurse Jaime Weigand said.

Patient care is one of the areas the nurses are not willing to compromise. Dozens of nurses will return to work Wednesday but some employees still have not received the call. Many are hoping negotiations will be reopened.

"If they would come back to the bargaining table and sit with us. Talk with us. The last time we meet we did a lot of soul searching and a lot of cutting on our part. We presented it to them and you know what their response was. They sent out lead negotiator an email and told us they are not coming back to the table," registered nurse James Schellhammer, said.

 
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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times

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