DREXEL HILL, Pa. (WPVI) --A 48-hour strike involving Delaware County Memorial Hospital nurses is about to come to a close. But that doesn't mean they'll be back on the job on Tuesday.
Monday was day 2 of the scheduled two-day strike by nearly 400 nurses and technical employees at the hospital. But the union says they will now not be allowed to return to their jobs until Friday morning because, they say, of a lockout by management.
The issues the union wants addressed include alleged staff shortages and cutbacks that threaten patient safety.
"Since Prospect took over, staffing has been cut to the bone, yes. Austerity measures? I don't know. It's a for-profit institution and they have cut us significantly," said Colleen Spaventa, one of the striking nurses.
Union leaders say they wanted to return to their jobs in the morning, but are being hit with a lockout by the new owners of the hospital, Prospect Medical Holdings.
The hedge fund has brought an army of temporary workers from around the nation to carry the patient load.
The management says this is not a lockout because they have to give a five-day minimum to the outside staffing outfit as a condition to get them to come here.
The union says this is just a punitive move by Prospect.
"The claim that this strike-breaking agency will only work in five-day increments - I've actually seen this agency work in increments of a day or two in other strike situations," said Bill Cruice of the Nurses Union. "So, we do believe it's punitive. And it's part of a pattern of how this company has been acting towards the nurses since they took over."
Angela Neopolitano, is one of the striking nurses, and she explained the frustration that led to the strike.
"It is surreal. It is something we didn't want to do. It was with a heavy heart that we decided to this, but we've been negotiating for over a year for a fair contract, and they have not been negotiating in good faith," said Neopolitano,
The hospital's management Monday night claimed that things were going just fine and functioning well inside the hospital, despite their seasoned professionals being outside on the sidewalks.