Geisinger hospital workers vote to strike during nurses week

Members of three unions affiliated with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals have voted to begin a five-day strike May 9 at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton, Pa.

The vote affects nearly 1,000 workers spanning multiple job classifications at GCMC, according to an April 18 union news release shared with Becker's

The registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified registered nurse anesthetists, technicians and degreed professionals including pharmacists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and chaplains, among others, are part of the group of local workers that has been bargaining with the hospital for months. 

Union representatives say that during negotiations, the hospital, which is part of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger, has not adequately addressed workers' concerns related to quality-of-care issues and caregiver retention. They specifically expressed concerns about what they say are hospital proposals to eliminate all sick time for registered nurses and nurse anesthetists and not limit increased health insurance costs.

"Nurses worked extremely hard during the pandemic and work even harder now due to the shortage of nurses at the bedside, which is only going to get worse," Maggie Gillot-Fountain, RN, a clinical access specialist, said in the union release. "Geisinger needs to step up and compensate the nurses with wages and benefits, so we can keep the nurses who are here and bring in the next generation of nurses to care for our community."

"Our PASNAP-represented colleagues play a critical role in the delivery of care at Geisinger Community Medical Center," a hospital spokesperson said in a statement shared with Becker's. "We value their commitment to our community, respect their rights as union members, and we're committed to continued good-faith bargaining to reach a mutually agreeable labor contract."

The contract for 535 RNs and CRNAs expired in January; 345 LPNs, technicians and degreed professionals have been bargaining since May for their first contract; and 56 nurse practitioners and physician assistants are bargaining for their first contract.

Union members are slated to strike for five days beginning May 9, during National Nurses Week, if labor contracts are not reached. 

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