Just days after rallying outside their hospital to demand investment, nurses and other caregivers secure a union contract with the largest employer in Scranton
650 nurses and other caregivers at Regional Hospital of Scranton (RHS) are celebrating a victory, after ratifying a new three-year union contract by an overwhelming majority. The agreement was reached just one day after workers held a public rally and vigil outside their hospital. Members voted to ratify the agreement on Tuesday, October 29th.
“I feel good about this contract and how all of us came together to make improvements,” said Michele Uhranowsky, RN. “It’s up to us to advocate for better care and better job standards in Scranton, and this agreement certainly helps get us there.”
Over the past several months, caregivers at RHS have reached out to the community, allies, and elected leaders to ‘Save Our Hospital.’ Their efforts got attention nationally when U.S. Senator Bob Casey reached out to CHS president Wayne Smith, urging the company to seek a quick and fair resolution and former Vice President Joe Biden sent a video message and tweet in of support of nurses and caregivers.
“This experience really shows that healthcare workers need to speak out and advocate,” said Jessica Webster, RN. “Our hospital is important to Scranton, both for the care and jobs it provides. It’s up to us to make sure corporate healthcare is living up to their promises and we’re glad we reached this agreement with CHS.”
The new contract, which will expire in September 2022, addresses some core concerns with Scranton’s largest employer. The agreement includes a 2% wage increases each year of the contract, an additional 2% increase added to the current wage scale, and secured health insurance with caps on employee copays and prescriptions.
“Making sure my healthcare costs won’t skyrocket is really important,” said Monta Cook, who works in housekeeping/environmental services. “A lot of people think that because I work in the hospital, I must have really great, affordable care. But the truth is, workers need to have a seat at the table to keep those costs under control. That’s what we did.”
“This hospital means so much to so many people,” said Paula West, a medical technologist who has worked at the hospital for 30 years. “Generations of people have been born here, people grieve here when they lose loved ones. I’m proud of the work we’re doing to save our hospital.”