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Geisinger CMC workers picket for PTO, criticize contract proposals

Geisinger CMC Employees picket outside the hospital on Mulberry St. in Scranton.
Aimee Dilger
Geisinger CMC Employees picket outside the hospital on Mulberry St. in Scranton.

A group of Geisinger CMC employees stood outside the hospital in Scranton Monday to express their frustrations amid contract negotiations.

The picketers represent five bargaining units within the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP). Nearly 1,000 nurses, techs, and more are negotiating contracts.

Jen Huber is a nurse at Geisinger CMC and President of the Northeast Pennsylvania Nurses Association (NEPANA).

“We got a wage proposal from our hospital, it was pretty insulting. Some people, not all, but some people were up to a $10 an hour pay cut,” she said. “We didn't think it was fair, considering our health care went up about 15 to 20%.”

Union members allege the health system proposed a contract with a lower cap on vacation days and did away with the extended PTO they had accrued.

“We have some nurses that are here 30 and 40 years, they have 1,500 hours of sick time that they want to just zero their bank and pay them nothing for it,” Huber said. “If you're out consecutively, you can use the short term disability that they offered us that we don't have to pay for. But unfortunately, it only pays you 60% of your pay.”

Alexa Kerecman Siderowicz joined the group to speak during her lunch break. She’s an advanced practitioner, currently pregnant, and worried about maintaining her health while her work demands increase.

“We are humans, we are not immune to illnesses or diseases that may require some extended time off, but Geisinger has taken that away from us,” she said. “It seems that the conversation about increased compensation has been continually postponed. We understand the complexities involved, but the delay is impacting our morale and our financial stability.”

Amylynn Price works at Geisinger Wyoming Valley, where employee contracts are also being negotiated. She says the slow bargaining process is draining and morale is low.

“There are people who wait months and months for a doctor’s appointment, and now can’t go because they don’t have the time off,” she said. “We’re getting sicker while we’re making our patients better.”

Geisinger provided this statement in response:
"Our nurses, nurse anesthetists, professionals, technologists and advanced practitioners play a critical role in the delivery of care at Geisinger Community Medical Center. We value their commitment to our community, and we respect their right to demonstrate. We intend to continue bargaining in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable labor contract for our employees that will allow them to continue providing outstanding care to our patients and members every day."

The demonstrators were all off-duty. The union says they do not have plans to strike at this point.

Updated: March 11, 2024 at 12:04 PM EDT
Geisinger CMC employees voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing bargaining committees to send a strike notice if necessary. Negotiations will continue through the end of March for the nearly 1,000 employees represented by the bargaining units. They are hopeful they will reach an agreement, but have signaled their willingness to strike, according to the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP).
Haley joined the WVIA news team in 2023 as a reporter and host. She grew up in Scranton and studied Broadcast Journalism at Marywood University. Haley has experience reporting in Northeast Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. She enjoys reporting on Pennsylvania history and culture, and video storytelling.

You can email Haley at haleyobrien@wvia.org
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