Hospital workers strike Temple University and defeat “gag” rule

Nurses and other professional and technical employees of Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia won a month-long strike in which management tried to impose a "gag" rule to prohibit them from speaking publicly about how staff shortages affect patient care. Marty Harrison, a staff nurse and board member of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), wrote about the union victory for the current issue of Labor Notes. She explains that the "gag" rule was "an idea incompatible with the legal obligation of health care workers to serve as advocates for their patients." Management’s demand for the "gag" rule and other concessions helped PASNAP members maintain solidarity and draw support from the community, the broader labor movement, and political leaders. In the face of demands that would have busted the union, Harrison says that, "Members have been tempered in the fire of battle and are feeling a new unity and strength, having learned firsthand the power of collective action and solidarity." She notes that 94% of members honored the picket lines for 28 days. PASNAP members ratified a new contract by a vote of 1,045 to 30.  Thank you PASNAP for taking a stand on protecting patient safety and your right to speak up on our behalf.  Still, it is shameful that our country does not have a federal law that would prohibit all employers from imposing "gag" rules of any sort.

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