Feb. 23—Certified registered nurse anesthetists at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of union representation in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.
They won the right to bargain their first union contract with Capital Anesthesia Solutions, the nurse anesthetists announced in a news release.
They were laid off in August by their previous employer, North American Partners in Anesthesia, which left following a dispute with the hospital over unpaid bills, according to their release.
Capital Anesthesia Solutions immediately took over anesthesia services at Wilkes-Barre General, Moses Taylor Hospital and Regional Hospital of Scranton in August and spread out the union members over the three different work sites.
According to the nurse anesthetists, this caused their established union recognition to lapse.
Since the shuffling of staff has stopped, they said they dedicated themselves to restoring their union.
The Wyoming Valley Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Association now includes 22 certified registered nurse anesthetists at Wilkes-Barre General. The local union is part of Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, which represents 9,400 nurses and healthcare professionals across the state.
PASNAP President Maureen May, a registered nurse, said frontline healthcare professionals in every setting have worked "tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be called on to do so for many months to come."
"Their work needs to be respected, their life-saving efforts acknowledged and their contributions valued — not just by their patients but by their employers as well," May said.
Nancy Dines, vice president of Wyoming Valley Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Association said when they had union before, it helped "us keep our jobs when other anesthetists were forced to leave with the last company."
"It helps ensure fairness and structure to our employment situation while so much is changing in healthcare," she said.
As the nurse anesthetists intubated ill COVID-19 patients, kept operating and procedural rooms running and provided anesthesia to birthing mothers, they said they were forced to reapply for their jobs and take a cut in pay.
"Forming our union again is the best way for us to ensure the highest quality of care for our patients, protect ourselves and advance our profession," said Anne Marie Micikas, president of Wyoming Valley Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Association.
Efforts to reach a spokesperson for Capital Anesthesia Solutions were not immediately successful.
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