Candlelight Vigil Held Tonight At St. John’s UCC Pottstown For Union Workers

The long drawn out union negotiations at PMMC are wearing down the hard working staff.  A candlelight vigil was held at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Pottstown this afternoon at 4 pm.  Hospital workers, union representatives, Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas and the press gathered to pray for a settlement and support each other during this difficult time.

Community Health Services of Brentwood, TN bought PMMC a few years ago and has transformed our caring community hospital into a “profit center”.  CHS has failed to show up at three of the last four bargaining sessions.  The contact has been extended twice already so the union voted overwhelming to go on a three day strike in December to protest unfair labor practices by CHS. 

While most of the country is in a recession, CHS is making record breaking profits and for the 3rd Quarter of 2009, their profits increased a whopping 13%.  CHS is trying to take away worker pensions and replace them with a 401K and has not made any indication of what, if any, matching contributions would be.  Also, CHS proposes to drastically increase employee health care contributions.  In the case of part time employees their out of pocket contributions would increase 400%!

Many workers spoke as well as union leaders.  A letter from US Senator Bob Casey (D) was read showing his support for the union and the hard working PMMC employees.  Two nurses from the Wyoming Valley (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area) came in support of hospital workers.  They briefly spoke saying their hospital was recently purchased by CHS and they are having similar difficulty in negotiating with CHS.  They wanted to show their solidarity to the workers in Pottstown.

Channel 6 was also there and interviewed several key people.

The attached pictures hopefully put a human face on the struggle to get fair and equitable treatment for our hospital workers.  These are Pottstown area people who are trying to get a fair contract from a corporate giant who evidently cares little for the Pottstown community.

Rev. Karen Creasy, Pastor of St. John’s UCC lead the service which included a Litany for Solidarity and candle lighting.  Participants prayed that God would loosen the hard heartedness of those at CHS and PMMC.

There are two more bargaining sessions before the strike deadline.  November 24th and November 30th.