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MCKEESPORT (KDKA) — The nurses at UPMC McKeesport may soon be walking the picket line.

From caring for patients in the hospital to rallying for support on the street.

“If we’re out here standing in the rain and lightning to speak up about what we need to respect nurses and what we need for patients, then something has gone wrong,” said Zach Zobrist, the secretary-treasurer of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.

Nurses and labor reps, along with Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman held a vigil Tuesday evening, across the street from UPMC McKeesport.

upmc mckeesport nurse rally UPMC McKeesport Nurses Rally For Support, Consider Going On Strike

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

They say their overall mission is to advocate for patient care.

“I’m here for safe staffing, quality care, and I want to keep our community hospital,” said Vanessa Gobbel, a registered nurse.

Nearly 170 nurses have been working without a contract since April.

“We want some reasonable raises. We want some of the things that some of the rest of the nurses in the system have,” said Lyn Musser, a staff nurse and the acting union president.

“You shouldn’t even be negotiating. You should be giving them what they need to have a secure retirement, to have job security, to make sure there’s adequate staffing to protect the patients,” said Fetterman.

KDKA reached out to UPMC for comment on Tuesday night.

They sent us this statement: “We are continuing to bargain in good faith and have a negotiation date set for later this month.”

Ninety-nine percent of the nurses have pledged to strike if necessary. But the acting union president says that’s a last ditch move no one really wants to make.

“It doesn’t really help anybody, but we need to take care of ourselves,” said Musser.

Both sides are planning a bargaining session for May 29.