Nurse union reaches labor agreement with CHS

Registered nurses employed at First Hospital in Kingston, Pennsylvania, reached a contract agreement with the hospital’s parent company, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS), that includes wage increases, health insurance and new protocols for floating nurses between units in the hospital.

This agreement comes after several months of contentious labor negotiations that included a one-day strike and a lockout.

“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 a prepared statement issued by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “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 statement noted 70 registered nurses who were working under an expired contract since Nov. 30, 2017. The nurses spoke out on safe staffing in March and also held a one-day strike on Apr. 25 because they felt no sufficient progress was made in staffing considerations, employee retention and workplace safety. Management, in turn, locked out the nurses because executives felt the nurses’ grievances would require more time to solve.

The new contract ensures that nurses will receive a 3 percent wage increase and an additional 3 percent increase at the end of the year. They will have health insurance increases capped at 6 percent for premiums, $5 for copays and 7 percent for deductibles and coinsurance. Additionally, there will be new protocols in place for floating nurses.

The issued statement also noted technical and services employees at First Hospital are still in negotiations with CHS.