Nurses at First Hospital Wyoming Valley in Kingston survived months of contentious contract negotiations with Community Health Systems (CHS), the owner of their hospital, and emerged with a victory — a new 20-month union contract!
Approximately 70 registered nurses had been working without a contract since November 30, 2017. For months, the nurses worked to bring public attention to their dispute, even going on strike in April.
“After several months of negotiations and a one-day strike, my coworkers and I are very pleased to have reached a fair contract with management,” said Katie Laskowski, an RN at First Hospital. “In order to provide the quality care our patients deserve, we need to reduce turnover and increase our ability to recruit skilled nurses. We think this contract is a step in the right direction, and one that will positively impact patient care.”
The new contract includes:
- A 3% wage increase at ratification and an additional 3% in December;
- A cap on health insurance increases;
- A new protocol for staffing floaters;
- Transparency language on orientation for nurses when hired or transferred between units.
Their contract victory is an example of what union members can accomplish for both healthcare workers and patients when they stand together to demand management work with caregivers, not against them!