Pennsylvania nurses approve labor deal, avert February strike

Unionized nurses at Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital approved a new contract  and canceled a Feb. 13 strike, according to The Citizens' Voice.

The nurses are represented by the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. They reached a tentative deal Jan. 29 and ratified the agreement Jan. 30.

With the new three-year agreement, they averted a planned strike over staffing and patient care issues.

"We are proud of this agreement and that a strike has been averted," Lori Schmidt, RN, treasurer of WVNA, said in a union news release.

The deal includes a significant pay increase designed to recruit and retain nurses, as well as a process for nurses to address patient care concerns, the news release stated.

Ms. Schmidt said the agreement doesn't include nurses’ domestic partners in the hospital's bereavement policy, but the union "will continue to pursue it.”

Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is owned by Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, one of the nation's major for-profit hospital operators. The CHS hospital system in Northeast Pennsylvania operates as Commonwealth Health.

“We are pleased that the union members voted to ratify the contract and look forward to working with all of our employees to continue to provide excellent health care to our community,” Commonwealth Health CEO Cor Catena said in a statement obtained by The Citizens' Voice. “We appreciate our staff, including our registered nurses, and thank all of our employees and physicians for continuing to remain focused on our mission, which is to provide the highest quality care to our patients.”

The hospital did not address its bereavement policy.


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