Union leaders of workers on strike against the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said Tuesday evening that a settlement agreement with the hospital could be reached within days. The striking workers of District Council 1199C planned to hold a general membership yesterday evening to look at a new proposal over wages and benefits for the 523 housekeeping and hospital service employees. They have been on strike since 12:01 a.m. July 1, when their contract expired. An additional 10 protesters were arrested Tuesday night for violating court-ordered injunctions restricting protests outside the hospital's entrances along 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard. On Monday, 38 union members were arrested and later released when they held a prayer vigil outside the hospital. Approximately 133 strikers were arrested last Wednesday when the strike began. The hospital received an injunction early that morning to limit the number of strikers outside entrances to the hospital, after strikers blocked ambulances and workers from entering the building. Additional injunctions obtained by the hospital during the week now regulate strikers' behavior on the picket lines, including a ruling which forbids picketers from drinking alcoholic beverages. Union leaders oppose the injunctions, saying the hospital jumped the gun in hiring temporary replacement workers almost two weeks ago to fill employees' jobs in the event of a strike. Union attorney Gail Lopez-Henriquez also said additional security officers were hired for the hospital from an Ohio company not licensed to operate in Pennsylvania. The security workers have guarded hospital doors and videotaped protesters. The hospital has used some of the videotape footage as evidence in support of additional injunctions against the protesters. Although details of the new contract proposal were not immediately available, workers originally demanded a 15 percent wage increase over the next three years, plus a 7.2 percent increase in contributions to the union's health and welfare fund and a half-percent increase for a union training fund. Among those arrested Tuesday was Thomas Paine Cronin, District Council 47 president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. His union is currently battling with the city, and decided to support CHOP workers and march in picket lines Tuesday. The same union picketing outside CHOP is also on strike against Center City's Osteopathic Medical Center. Union leaders did not say whether an agreement would be reached soon between Osteopathic Hospital and over 300 employees there. Nine other hospitals and 15 nursing homes in the Philadelphia area successfully reached agreements with workers before contracts expired at midnight on July 1, potentially avoiding strikes similar to those now taking place at CHOP and Osteopathic. The Associated Press contributed to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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