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INDIANA (KDKA) – More than 300 nurses at Indiana Regional Medical Center have walked off the job.

Nurses at the Indiana Regional Medical Center took to the picket lines at 7 a.m. on Monday. The nurses’ union previously stated it would be a one-day strike.

According to the hospital, more than 780 employees and several hundred nurses are staffing the facility today. All scheduled appointments, surgeries, etc. will be held.

(Photo Credit: Ed Riedmann)

The alleged budget black cloud hangs over the ongoing contract negotiations with the facility’s nurses’ union, which have ground to a halt. The sticking points are healthcare and wages.

The most recent offer from the hospital is a 6 percent wage increase over three years.

However, healthcare contributions by the 380 nurses that make up the Indiana Registered Nurses Association could go from 2.5 percent up to 30 percent in some cases.

The hospital’s board of directors said they hoped to avoid the strike and to hold good faith bargaining sessions with the nurses’ union.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors, I am disappointed that the nurses we rely on chose to strike. At a most difficult time in the history of IRMC, the union leaders led their members to a strike that essentially left us with two choices – close the hospital or figure out a way to continue operating for the community we serve. Our Board remains focused on upholding IRMC’s mission to provide the highest quality health care every day. We’re hopeful that our nurses fully understand how much we value their service,” IRMC Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Nathan Kovalchick said.

The hospital said the replacement nurses are being brought in on a required five-day minimum contract at a cost of $1.5 million.

“Regular staff nurses are welcome to report to work today in order to have available work for the rest of this week and not lose a week’s worth of wages,” the hospital said in a statement.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Nov. 29.