Pennsylvania hospital workers avert strike with new contract

Workers at Allegheny Health Network affiliate Warren (Pa.) General Hospital have approved a new three-year contract, according to the union that represents them. 

The 114 nurses and healthcare workers, who are represented by the Warren General Hospital Professional Employees Association, a local chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, issued a strike notice about three months after their last labor deal expired in September. They reached a tentative deal with the hospital Dec. 13 and approved it Dec. 15. With the deal approved, a strike is averted. 

"A year and a half into the pandemic, the system that's supposed to support bedside caregivers, and therefore patients, is in crisis," PASNAP President Maureen May, RN, said in a news release. "Our workloads have shot through the roof while staff numbers have dwindled due to burnout and shortsighted, bottom-line decisions. This contract, with its emphasis on safe staffing, prioritizes excellence in patient care as well as the health and well-being of frontline caregivers. We are thrilled."

According to the union, measures in the contract include:

  • Assignment of a float nurse, if available 
  • Pulling available staff from other units
  • Seeking volunteers among nurses who have indicated they are willing to pick up shifts
  • Calling in nurses who are not regularly scheduled to work 
  • Having supervisors work and assist
  • An average pay increase of 4.5 percent for nurses in the first year of the contract and 3 percent in the second and third years, with some staff seeing over 17 percent increases in salary over the life of the contract 
  • An agreement that the hospital will match 75 percent of up to 9.5 percent of employee contributions to the 401(k)

"The administration of the hospital is pleased with the contract ratified … and how it confirms our practice of staffing nurses. In our new contract we confirm in writing our staffing practices that have been in place for several years. It is noteworthy that administration and the PASNAP union have agreed to an appropriate approach to staffing nurses," Joe Akif, RN, the hospital's COO and CNO, said, according to The Post-Journal.

Mr. Akif added that the hospital is "extremely excited to announce a clinical ladder program that incentivizes our nurses monetarily to continue their professional development, which will enhance patient care for the Warren community."

PASNAP represents more than 9,000 nurses and healthcare professionals in Pennsylvania.

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