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Wilkes-Barre General Hospital operators hire scabs

12.15.13

DECEMBER 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Wilkes-Barre General Hospital operators hire scabs

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- Registered Nurses (RN’s) affiliated with the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA), which is an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professional union (PASNAP), Conshohocken, went on strike for one day on December 3rd to protest the lack of progress at the bargaining table for a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the operators of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. However, the Community Health Systems (CHS), headquatered in Franklin Tennessee, responded by hiring scab nurses and locking-out PASNAP members for a additional two days.

The union went on strike accusing the operators of the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, of bargaining in bad faith and denouncing the dangerous and numerous violations of a Pennsylvania law that makes it illegal to mandate a nurse to work overtime, as well as consistently insufficient staffing levels in the hospital.

PASNAP and CHS have been unsuccessful in obtaining a successor CBA between the two parties for the nurses. The previous labor agreement expired on April 30th, 2013.

During negotiations according to Terry Marcavage, Staff Representative of PASNAP, management has proposed a wage freeze while demanding other contract concessions including the removal of the union security clause from the CBA. Under the clause it is mandated that new nursing hires would join the union.

Ms. Marcavage stated the contract expired more than six months ago and the lack of progress during negotiations has left the nurses questioning the hospital’s commitment to recruiting and retaining a dedicated staff and providing safe patient care to the community.

Community Health Systems is one of the largest for-profit medical center operators in the United States. They also operate the Regional Hospital of Scranton in the city’s hill section.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, represents nearly 80 percent of the Regional Hospital workforce including the nurses. Before CHS purchased the medical center several years ago it was called Mercy Hospital.

The SEIU members recently ratified a new short-term CBA with CHS which includes a 2.1 percent wage increase. The previous contract expired on February 28th, 2013.