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Nurses At Indiana County Hospital Asked To Cancel Strike Plans

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INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) -- The battle lines are drawn at Indiana Regional Medical Center.

The union has given notice that their nurses will stage a one-day walk-out if their demands aren't met; but hospital management says if a strike happens, they are prepared.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Indiana Regional Medical Center management says times are not good when it comes to the bottom line.

IRMC Chief Growth Officer Mark Richards told KDKA's Ross Guidotti, "We had one of our worst years last year. We lost about $4 million last year."

The alleged budget black cloud hangs over the ongoing contract negotiations with the facility's nurses' union, which have ground to a halt. The sticking points are healthcare and wages.

The most recent offer from the hospital is a 6 percent wage increase over three years.

However, healthcare contributions by the 380 nurses that make up the Indiana Registered Nurses Association could go from 2.5 percent up to 30 percent in some cases.

In the wake of the impasse, the union has authorized a one-day walkout set for Nov. 26. The hospital says, if a strike happens, they plan on bringing in replacement workers for more than one day.

"Well, the reality is we're beholden to a five-day contract minimum with any kind of staffing agency," said Richards.

A press release from the nurses' union assailed the replacement worker plan, saying, in part, "It's not a question of whether IRMC has the money, it's how they are choosing to spend it. They made it clear that they are choosing not to spend the hospital's money on our loyal and highly-skilled nurses."

Meanwhile, hospital administration is urging the union to postpone their walkout plans and work things out at the bargaining table instead.

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