Kingston, PA — Registered Nurses and members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania at First Hospital ratified a new twenty-month union contract with Community Health Systems by an overwhelming majority this afternoon. The agreement secures wage increases, affordable health insurance, and a new protocol for floating nurses between units in the hospital.
“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, a Registered Nurse 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.”
Tennessee-based, for-profit Community Health Systems has purchased several Northeast Pennsylvania hospitals in recent years. Prior to today’s vote, roughly 70 Registered Nurses at First Hospital had been operating under an expired union contract since November 30. Nurses held a community speak out on safe staffing in mid-March as well as a one-day strike on April 25 when sufficient progress had not been made in key areas related to staffing, employee retention, and safety.
Following the nurses’ one-day strike, improved proposals were made in negotiation sessions pertaining to both patient care and nurse training. Under the new contract, nurses will:
- Receive a 3% wage increase at ratification and an additional 3% in December;
- Have health insurance increases capped at 6% for premiums, $5 for copays, and 7% for deductibles and coinsurance;
- Abide by a new protocol for the floating of nurses between one hospital unit to the next that first floats volunteers, agency nurses, and nurses on extra shifts before per diem nurses and regular staff; and
- Receive an orientation when hired or transferred between units, with details of the orientation presented before the union’s Patient Care Committee.
The technical and service employees at First Hospital have yet to reach a tentative agreement with Community Health Systems at this time and remain in continued negotiations.
For more info, contact Jenn Landolina Wood at 412-508-6517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community-based services, and State facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of healthcare workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.