Union Signs Off On Deal With Warren General Hospital

Warren General Hospital

WARREN, Pa. — After months of negotiations and a recent strike notice, the union representing its nurses have ratified a new contract with Warren General Hospital.

A vote on ratification by the full local membership of PASNAP (Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals) took place on Wednesday. The union said in a statement that the contract was “overwhelmingly ratified.”

“The contract we negotiated is a step in the right direction for our patients’ well-being,” Charlene Fohrd, a maternity nurse and co-president of the Warren General Hospital Professional Employees Association, the local PASNAP chapter, said.

“The Administration of the Hospital is pleased with the contract ratified today and how it confirms our practice of staffing nurses,” Joe Akif, the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer, said Wednesday. “In our new contract we confirm in writing our staffing practices that have been in place for several years. It is noteworthy that Administration and the PASNAP union have agreed to an appropriate approach to staffing nurses.”

According to a statement from PASNAP, the contract “strengthens staffing at Warren General by requiring the hospital to take measures to address short staffing on a unit due (to) increased patient acuity and increased census, among other reasons.”

They say that includes assignment of a float nurse, pulling staff from other units, seeking volunteers among nurses who have expressed a willingness to pick up shifts, calling casual nurses to work and having supervisors work and assist.

A casual nurse is one “not regularly scheduled to work and who is employed under an arrangement whereby the person may elect to work or not when requested to do so.”

“We were able to build a framework for safer staffing and a better plan for staff recruitment and retention,” Fohrd added. “Our first concern is always our patients and we’re grateful to the community for supporting us in this effort.”

Akif said the contract ratified on Wednesday “had been offered by the hospital administration in October of this year.”

They highlighted “significant wage increases across the board” as well as increased premiums for second and third shift and on-call pay.

“Most importantly, we are extremely excited to announce a clinical ladder program that incentives our nurses monetarily to continue their professional development which will enhance patient care for the Warren community,” Akif said. “These enhancement(s) to employee compensation designed to increase employee competency are possible because the Hospital has been managed with a focus on these objectives.”

The union says that nurses will see an average pay increase of 4.5 percent in year one and three percent in years two and three. They note some staff will see increases over 17 percent over the three-year term of the contract. They also tout retirement contribution items that, along with pay increases will “strengthen nurse retention and help to attract additional staff to the hospital, both of which will also improve staffing and, therefore, the quality of patient care.”

The union approved a strike notice on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The National Labor Relations Act requires all labor organizations to give health care employers a minimum of 10 days’ notice before a strike to ensure the safety of the patients within the facility.

The notice set up the potential for a strike to begin days before Christmas. With an agreement in place, the strike notice was rescinded.

“This contract,” PASNAP President Maureen May said, “with its emphasis on safe staffing, prioritizes excellence in patient care as well as the health and well-being of frontline caregivers. We are thrilled.”

“We look forward to working together with our nursing team over the next three years of this contract to continue to improve the care that we provide,” Akif added. “As a leadership team, we place an emphasis on all 642 employees and understand that it takes all of us to create a positive and safe environment for our patients and County residents.”


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