PA: Spending $1million for replacement RN'S

  1. general rns vote on final offer today

    by edward lewis , citizens' voice staff writer 01/23/2003

    unionized nurses at wilkes-barre general hospital will vote today on a final contract offer submitted by administrators of wyoming valley health care system.

    nurses will vote at 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the waterfront in plains township, said sandy solovey, president of the wyoming valley nurses association, an affiliate of the pennsylvania association of staff nurses and allied professionals.

    "they gave us their final offer tonight, and i'm really disappointed," solovey said. "they didn't recognize our concerns about mandatory overtime and the understaffing of nurses."

    jim carmody, vice president of human resources at wvhcs, said the offer is valid until friday. if the contract is not agreed to by nurses, plans would be made to hire replacement nurses.

    "the union did not accept our final offer, rather they counter proposed our final offer," carmody said. "the counter proposal included items that were no longer a serious part of their package."

    carmody said the hospital's final proposal - a three-year pact - includes substantial wage increases, other economic improvements and a forum for nurses to work with administration to address clinical practice issues.
    "our offer is on the table until friday morning," carmody said. "if they do not accept it by then, the offer is automatically withdrawn.

    "at that point, we would need to finalize our plans and commitments for nurses to work if they do go on strike," carmody added.
    hospital administrators have arranged to hire u.s. nursing corp. of denver, colo., to replace unionized nurses if they do go on strike.

    reportedly, the hiring of usnc could cost nearly $1 million for 10 days.
    usnc requires hospitals to pay not only wages, but also air travel costs for the temporary staff, hotel costs, transportation costs, daily meal allowances and office space, equipment and parking for usnc administrators.

    unionized nurses originally planned a two-day strike monday, jan. 27, at 7 a.m. to wednesday, jan. 29, at 6:59 a.m.
    on tuesday, the two-day strike notice was extended 72 hours to jan. 30 and jan. 31 in hopes a settlement could be reached.

    solovey said she hopes a strike could be diverted.
    "it is the last thing we would want to do because it would affect our patients and our community," solovey said. "i'm asking the community to call dr. (william) host at the hospital and tell him to listen to us."

    dr. host is president and chief executive officer of wvhcs.
    the citizens voice 2003

    nurses' union hits use of replacement workers

    by denise allabaugh , citizens' voice staff writer 01/21/2003

    wilkes-barre general hospital registered nurses, who likely will strike, are furious their jobs would be replaced by a company that specializes in strikebreaking.
    they say their strike would last two days.

    wyoming valley health care system president and ceo dr. william host, however, said he would hire a company to replace the nurses for at least 10 days if an agreement is not reached by tuesday.

    members of the wyoming valley nurses association/pennsylvania association of staff nurses and allied professionals, the nurses' union, criticized the hospital administration for its decision to hire u.s.
    nursing corp. of denver, colo., and to lock out local nurses after a two-day strike.

    "the decision by wilkes-barre general hospital to lock out career nurses - essentially a strike by hospital management - is deplorable," said sandy solovey, president of the wyoming valley nurses association.
    "their actions turn a two-day strike into a major confrontation," solovey said. "and the decision to fly in replacement nurses from a strike-breaking firm like u.s. nursing corp. is reprehensible. it frightens me to think that these people will be taking care of our patients."

    the nurses' contract expires jan. 26.
    they met monday for a negotiation session with hospital management at the waterfront in plains township. yet, pasnap director bill cruice said there was no progress.

    "the nurses are bending over backwards to try to reach an agreement," cruice commented monday afternoon. "the employer position, however, is still stuck on the refusal to eliminate the dangerous practice of mandatory overtime or to ensure safe staffing."

    in addition to eliminating mandatory overtime and ensuring safe staffing, cruice said "competitive" wages and secure benefits also were top priorities for the nurses.
    solovey said the nurses' strike would begin monday, jan. 27, at 7 a.m. and end wednesday, jan. 29, at 6:59 a.m.
    dr. host, however, said workers would replace them for at least 10 days.

    if an agreement is not reached, the health system would need to pay the company supplying replacement nurses on tuesday, he said.
    usnc typically requires hospitals pay up to three times their regularly budgeted payroll for nurses. many reports, provided by the nurses, have indicated that the replacement nurses are paid between $2,500 and $4,000 a week.

    at a recent stanford university hospital strike, usnc reportedly offered $5,000 a week, plus bonuses, to work during the strike. usnc also requires hospitals to pay air travel costs for the temporary staff, hotel costs, transportation costs between the hotel and the hospital, daily meal allowances and office space, equipment and parking for usnc administrators.

    "locking out its nurses and hiring hundreds of replacements for a week could cost our hospital almost a million dollars," solovey said. "it's just a shame that they are willing to spend this money fighting us on issues like staffing and patients safety, instead of spending the money to solve problems at our hospital."

    reportedly, the company flies the replacement nurses in, conceals where they are housed and transports them back and forth to work in vans with blacked-out windows. replacement workers can work up to 80 hours in a week.
    according to information supplied by the wyoming valley nurses association, in the 14 years usnc has been in business, it has been plagued by reports of serious errors by its temporary nurses.

    during a 2000 strike at st. vincent's hospital in worcester, mass., three usnc replacement nurses were fired after the state health department documented two serious incidents. in one incident, a newborn was brought to the wrong mother to breastfeed. in the other, a surgical patient was left unattended for nearly an hour in a post-recovery room.

    during a 1994 strike in new jersey staffed by usnc, the state cited usnc for "improprieties" that precipitated the death of a patient, and the state recommended the hospital be fined. the health department found that a nurse had improperly prepared and administered a sedative to a patient, giving him two to four times the federal approved dosage through an iv device over 27 hours.

    "usnc has an obvious conflict of interest in urging hospitals not to reduce their patient population," solovey concluded. "they are hoping more usnc employees will be hired. but they fail to consider the safety and well-being of the patients who will be receiving care from these people, who have no experience with the hospital, its patients and its operations, who may be working up to 80 hours a week and may not even have proper licensure or certification."

    "it's very disturbing that the union and its leadership have chosen to fabricate a perception that our hospital is jeopardizing the care of our patients," said jim carmody, vice president of human resources at wvhcs. "this is at best irresponsible but certainly misleading."

    the citizens voice 2003
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  3. by   oramar
    Other institutions which have spent money this way have come to regret it. So much better to enter contract negotiations with a sincere interest in solving things. Don't these people ever learn from other's mistakes? This is money that could go for better care for patients instead of making agency CEOs richer. Just makes you shake your head. I don't blame the unions for being proactive in pointing out problems caused by strikebreaking. The instituitons don't hesitate to make the nurse the bad guy anytime they can.
    Last edit by oramar on Jan 24, '03
  4. by   renerian
    Amazing how big that dollar amount it.