KINGSTON — Months of acrimonious labor relations at First Hospital have finally taken a turn for the better.
About 70 registered nurses at the facility have reached a new 20-month contract with parent company Community Health Systems, officials with their union, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, announced Tuesday.
The deal secures “wage increases, affordable health insurance, and a new protocol for floating nurses between units in the hospital,” an SEIU statement indicated.
“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 First Hospital RN Katie Laskowski.
“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.”
“Following the nurses’ one-day strike, improved proposals were made in negotiation sessions pertaining to both patient care and nurse training,” the SEIU statement added.
SEIU said that under the new contract, nurses will:
• Receive a 3 percent wage increase at ratification, and an additional 3 percent in December.
• Have health insurance increases capped at 6 percent for premiums, $5 for copays, and 7 percent 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.
• Receive an orientation when hired or transferred between units, with details of the orientation presented before the union’s Patient Care Committee.
Technical and service employees at First Hospital remain in negotiations, SEIU added.
“First Hospital is pleased to have reached a mutual agreement with its registered nurses,” spokeswoman Renita Fennick said Tuesday.
CHS also has been in negotiations at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where 440 nurses represented by The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals held a one-day strike in May.