Scab or Replacement Worker

On Wednesday night, I spent a few hours at a Center City hotel with the nurses and other technicians who are manning the hospital at Temple while the regular crew is out on strike. Some of those had been union nurses; others were adamant that unions and hospitals don't go together. The next morning, I covered a rally held by the striking nurses at City Hall. What they all had in common -- those on strike and those who are working in the hospital as replacement staffers, was an expressed loyalty to their patients.

Those at the hotel pointed out that someone had to take care of the patients at the hospital. Good point. One said that even though she sympathized with the striking workers, she couldn't understand how they could walk out on their patients, especially the terminally ill. Those on the picket line pointed out that by Pennsylvania law, hospital workers have to give a 10-day notice before they walk out on strike. The purpose of that, they said, is to allow the hospital to scale back patient load so that a strike can be accommodated safely.  But instead, they said, Temple chose a different path.

If you'd like to read my Philadelphia Inquirer story on my evening with the replacement workers, please click here. Another story in today's Philadelphia Inquirer talks about the costs of manning a huge replacement staff.