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The anti-union CHS getting bigger with buy of health system

03.24.14

MARCH 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

The anti-union CHS getting bigger with buy of health system

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 1st- The Community Health Systems (CHS) Inc., the Tennessee-based largest for-profit hospital chain in the nation, will be getting even bigger after it was announced on February 6th the conglomerate will purchase a western Pennsylvania health system. CHS purchased Sharon Regional Health System which has 1,800 workers making it the largest employer in Mercer County of Pennsylvania.

CHS owns or operates at least 200 hospitals in 29 states including at least eight medical facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was exclusively reported that CHS was hit by a United States District Court Judge in Ohio with a sweeping cease and desist injunction to end its behavior in refusing to bargain with its registered nurses (RN’s) union and engaging in repeated illegal discipline and harassment.

The anti-union CHS was hit by a ruling on January 22nd, by United States District Court Judge John Adams of Northern Ohio District. It was the third injunction within a year against CHS for violations of federal labor law. CHS has been hit with similar injunctions in 2013 in California.

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), has been unsuccessful in gaining a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with CHS, which operates the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre. The next negotiating meeting between PASNAP and CHS is scheduled for April 8th.

PASNAP members went on strike for one day on December 3rd to protest the lack of progress at the bargaining table for a CBA. CHS responded by hiring scab nurses and locking-out unionized RN’s for a additional two days.

CHS also operates the Regional Hospital of Scranton. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, represents nearly 80 percent of the medical center employees including the nurses.

The injunction requires CHS to immediately cease and desist its refusal to recognize and bargain with the National Nurses United, the union which represents the RN’s at the Affinity Medical Center of Massillon, Ohio.

PASNAP has also filed labor complaints against CHS and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office has scheduled a hearing on the complaints for April 1st.