Pocono Medical Center workers and 5,000 of their union sisters and brothers rally to keep their union!

by Richard Negri

The attack on union workers is spreading like a cancer – attempting to reach every Main Street in the United States. Whether it is Wisconsin, Ohio, or a small town nestled in Pennsylvania, big business and their political allies are on the hunt to break unions and the middle class we’ve created.

But as the attacks on the middle class have spread across the country, the fight back response from workers has spread just as quickly. This past weekend, Pocono Medical Center and the quaint little town of East Stroudsburg, PA nestled in the beautiful Pocono Mountains became the latest epicenter in this struggle. 5,000 people from as far away as Colorado, Baltimore and New York gathered just a couple blocks away from the hospital for a rally and march in support of the hospital’s 550 SEIU members

Like many other corporations, Pocono Medical Center is posting record profits, but for the last six months has been demanding that workers give up their union shop, thereby making it easier for management to gut the workers’ contract, wages and benefits. The blatant disrespect for the workers at the hospital, some of which have worked at PMC for 20+ years, is unfathomable.

The workers at PMC aren’t taking management’s demands lying down, however. The workers already struck twice this year to protest the hospital’s unfair labor practices.

“Our union is here to stay. It’s time for management to move on, respect our voice and settle a fair contract,” said Kathy Walls, a patient facilitator in the same-day surgery department at the hospital.

“Like the nurses and teachers in Madison and Columbus, PMC workers are standing up for workers’ rights and the good jobs our families and communities desperately need,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry who kicked off the march through town.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East President George Gresham, PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and a number of other labor leaders and elected officials marched with the workers. Even actor Danny Glover joined the workers for the rally.

“I’m amazed at the incredible support we are getting here in our community and across the country. Walking shoulder to shoulder with thousands of fellow working people was a powerful experience and sent a very strong message,” said Walls.

To be sure, this was one rally that the Poconos – and Pocono Medical Center – won’t forget.

Richard Negri is an on-line organizer for the SEIU. This report originally appeared on the SEIU blog.

One Response

  1. […] Here is an earlier Talking Union post on workers at the Pocono Medical Center. […]

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