Workers are currently negotiating a new contract to replace the one that expires Saturday.
Hospital employees held signs that read “Hands off my Health Care” and “Be fair to those who care.” They chanted and listened to speeches by union representatives and fellow employees.
Employees told The Herald-Mail they are willing to pay more for their health care, but need raises to compensate for the increased cost.
Summit Health owns Chambersburg and Waynesboro hospitals. But Chambersburg Hospital is the only one affected by the contract.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest health care workers union, represents 1,300 of Chambersburg Hospital’s approximately 1,800 employees.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Vice President Kevin Hefty said contract negotiations between the union and Chambersburg Hospital began in May.
“Employees will meet on July 2. We’re hopeful we’ll have a contract to vote on. If not, we’ll vote on what other steps to take,” Hefty said. “No one is interested in going on strike. We’re interested in finding a resolution.”
Hospital employees went on strike in the late 1970s, according to union officials.
Michele Hill has worked as a medical transcriptionist in the radiology department of the hospital for 32 years.
“The rally is to gain public support to show that we’re united and that everyone is pulling for everyone else to try to get a fair contract in the end,” Hill said.
In 2011, Summit Health made $44 million in excess revenue, according to a statement released by the union.
William J. Flannery, Chambersburg Hospital’s chief negotiator, said in a phone interview Wednesday night that the contract is between the hospital and the union, not with Summit Health. He said the margin of revenues over expenditures was closer to about half of what the union thinks it is.
He said that money is used for such things as wages and benefits, new equipment, supplies and physician practices.
Hill and other employees at the rally questioned why the hospital is threatening huge cuts to benefits.
“We’re willing to give on benefits, but we don’t want to take a pay cut to do it,” Hill said.
Sheila Colvin of Hagerstown has been a registered nurse for the hospital for 16 years.
Union employees who have been employed with the hospital for more than five years don’t pay a health-care premium, Colvin said.
“We don’t mind paying for some of our health care but we’re not willing to take a pay cut to do that,” she said. “We want to continue to stay at the local hospital and give good quality care to our patients, but not take a pay cut and our families hurt because of it.”