Last updated: June 25. 2014 12:30PM - 1393 Views
By - jlynott@timesleader.com

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A union spokeswoman said that she hoped “today is the day” nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital reach a new contract.

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals have a bargaining session today and have been working under the terms of an old contract that ended more than a year ago. The union representing 460 registered nurses has been negotiating with representatives of Commonwealth Health, the network that includes the hospital, since last year.

Emily Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the union, said the nurses are trying to avoid a strike, after giving notice it would do so.

“Nothing is definite,” Rodriguez said.

Renita Fennick, a spokeswoman for Commonwealth Health, said negotiations are ongoing.

The union filed unfair labor complaints against Wilkes-Barre Hospital Co. LLC in April, claiming it made numerous requests to the company for information in order to be able to bargain for a new contract. The NLRB set a hearing date for July 14 in Philadelphia.

The old contract expired on April 30, 2013 and took two years negotiate with the new owner, for-profit, Community Health Systems Inc. of Franklin, Tennessee that purchased the hospital and other assets of the Wyoming Valley Health Care System in 2009.

The nurses held a 24-hour strike in December 2013. The hospital locked out the nurses for two days afterward, bringing in out-of-state nurses as replacements.

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