Workers and management at Mount Nittany Medical Center are trying to come to terms over a new contract.
The hospital’s agreement with the reportedly almost 1,000 employees represented by the Service Employees International Union expires on Thursday.
That has the two sides in active negotiation right now to decide what happens next month, including the possibility of a strike by the health care workers.
“We continue to make progress with the union to reach an agreement in a timely manner and any discussion of a strike is premature,” said Mount Nittany Health director of marketing and communications Nichole Monica.
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A strike is always a possibility with unionized employees, but there are prescribed ways that labor organizations have to go about them.
“Under federal law, the union would have to give 10 days notice of an intent to strike and as of today, no notice has been given,” Monica said. “Our goals are to achieve fair, responsible planning for the financial future of our employees and to make the best possible decisions today to ensure a financially stable outlook for the future. We continue to offer all of our services in the communities that we serve.”
The union confirmed that the lines of communication are still open, with a representative saying “right now we are just really focused on negotiations.”
Neither side would comment on specific sticking points in the talks, although Monica did make a reference to the hospital’s offer.
“At Mount Nittany Health, we care about our patients, employees and the future of our hospital,” she said. “Our compensation and benefit package at Mount Nittany Medical Center is highly competitive.”
The hospital employs 2,400 people and is one of the largest employers in the county. Mount Nittany is also the only hospital in Centre County and the closest medical provider for some areas in surrounding counties.
According to the hospital’s website, the contract is negotiated every three years.
In 2004, employees participated in a strike. At that time, the hurdles included mandatory overtime, salaries and pension.