Wilkes-Barre General must pay back wages to nurses

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital violated federal labor law by withholding longevity-based pay from nurses last year, according to a Times Leader report.

In an order dated July 14, the NLRB upheld the November decision from Administrative Law Judge Susan A. Flynn, who ruled that the hospital violated the National Labor Relations Act when it failed to pay longevity-based wage increases to nurses following the expiration of their union contract, according to the report.

In regard to the issue, Wyoming Valley Nurses Association, the local chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, filed an unfair labor practice charge in early 2014 against Wilkes-Barre General and Franklin, Tenn.-based owner Community Health Systems, according to the report.

After a trial in Philadelphia in July 2014, Judge Flynn ruled that Wilkes-Barre General and CHS were to issue retroactive pay increases, according to the report. CHS and the hospital appealed the decision to the NLRB.

In response to the ruling, union representative Terry Marcavage told the Citizens' Voice, "For us, it shows CHS has to be held accountable to the law. They can't just think that they can own a hospital in this community and not adhere to our labor laws or any other laws."

Renita Fennick, director of communications for Commonwealth Health, an affiliate of CHS, also responded, releasing the following written statement to media:

"We are disappointed in the ruling of the National Labor Relations Board and are considering our legal options for seeking an appellate court review of the board’s decision."

Ms. Fennick did not disclose how many of the approximately 485 nurses who work at the hospital would be affected, or the total amount of money that the NRLB is requiring the hospital to pay back to the nurses. However, CHS is obligated to retroactively pay the nurses the back wages they are owed from February 2014 to September 2014, when they ratified their new contract.


More articles on workforce and labor management:

Organizations solicit answers for national nursing survey: 3 things to know
California nurses reach tentative contract with hospital officials: 4 things to know
Unity Hospital workers vote to unionize



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