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Healthcare Workers Threatening to Strike over Temple University Hospital’s Arbitration Appeal

Wednesday, May, 22, 2013


The termination of an employee from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has given rise to the threat of a strike from other healthcare workers.  Henry Nicholas, president of the union representing the workers, AFSCME District 1199C, stated, “we’re prepared to shut it down.” 

However, the employees’ contract with the hospital contains a no-strike clause.  The fact that such a strike was even mentioned shows the severity of the resentment within the union over the termination and result of the subsequent arbitration proceedings of the female employee who was terminated from employment after the alleged sexual harassment of her coworker. 

According to Temple University Hospital officials, the female employee made lewd comments to another employee, in addition to showing that employee sexually explicit material.  After being terminated, she filed a grievance against the hospital for wrongful termination, which was sent to arbitration per the terms of the employee contract she signed.  The arbitrator assigned to the case determined that due to her 30 years of service to the hospital, the employee should be reinstated to her position, although without any kind of back pay or retroactive benefits due to the fact that she had "engaged in a pattern of conduct that cannot be tolerated in the workplace."

Temple University Hospital was not happy with the arbitrator’s decision and appealed it, stating that the "length of service should not shield employees from their responsibility to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times."  The hospital’s appeal is the issue that has the healthcare workers threatening to strike.  "To us, it means we can have no confidence that any of that arbitration is ever going to have any meaning," said Peter Gould, executive vice president of the healthcare workers union.