Hospital Tries to Head Off Union Protest

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A major Philadelphia medical school and health care provider filed an emergency petition asking a federal judge to stop a union from picketing outside its facilities in a demonstration today.
     Thomas Jefferson University claims a unit of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, eager to “apply bargaining pressure” in the midst of negotiations over a collective bargaining agreement, has scheduled a mass demonstration at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in downtown Philadelphia, for this afternoon.
     That demonstration is set to be followed by a roughly 5,000-person gathering at the nearby Philadelphia Convention Center, according to the university’s emergency petition.
     There is “substantial evidence” to believe that District 1199, which represents nonprofessional workers, including custodians and certain maintenance personnel, will picket at university and hospital locations, blocking doctors and nurses from entering and exiting the properties and impeding “the free flow of emergency vehicles,” the university claims.
     Such disruptive conduct is prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement that is in effect until June 30, according to the petition.
     The university asked Senior U.S. District Judge Norma Shapiro to confirm an arbitration agreement under which the union allegedly agreed to refrain from that type of behavior.
     Thomas Jefferson University is represented by Vincent Pentima, with Buchanan Ingersoll in Philadelphia.
     Named as defendant is the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, District 1199C, of Philadelphia.

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