SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Workers at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton voted to unionize several hundred workers Thursday night, with another vote later this month that would include 60 additional caregivers.

In a statement released by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals (PASNAP), 350 healthcare workers voted by a margin of 75 percent to join the union. PASNAP will now represent a total of 800 workers at Geisinger CMC in Scranton. The decision includes workers such as licensed practical nurses, emergency room technicians, medical technologists, radiology technologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, among others.

A separate union election for 60 nurse practitioners and physician assistants is expected to take place on Thursday, December 22, PASNAP stated in their media release.

A Geisinger representative said while they would have preferred to negotiate with the workers directly, they respect their decision to unionize.

“We are grateful to all our employees who spent the last few weeks gathering facts and making an informed decision about potential union representation. While we would have preferred an outcome that allowed for ongoing direct and productive dialogue with our employees, we respect the National Labor Relations Board process and the decision our employees have made. If the NLRB certifies the election result, we will follow our legal obligation to bargain in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable labor contract for our employees whose talent and commitment are essential to providing the world-class care our patients and communities have come to expect at GCMC,” said Matt Van Stone, director of media relations and public affairs at Geisinger.

Healthcare workers quoted in the PASNAP media release cited understaffing, withheld raises and restrictive time off policies as some of the reasons for voting to unionize.

“In my five years with the pharmacy department here at GCMC, I’ve been subjected to understaffing, withheld raises, loss of benefits, and restrictive paid time off policies I was even denied paid time off for my own wedding day," said inpatient pharmacist Anthony Possanza. "Enough is enough! It‘s time
Geisinger starts investing more in its employees than infrastructure. That`s why I voted yes.”

In a written statement to Eyewitness News, Van Stone addressed some of the workers’ concerns.

“Regarding merit increases, now that the election has concluded we will be reaching out to the union to begin those discussions,” Van Stone added.

“We could not be more proud of the hard work, the perseverance, and the dedication of the Geisinger CMC professionals and technical specialists to their patients, their colleagues and their community,” said PASNAP President Maureen May, R.N. “PASNAP was founded on the belief that patients receive better care when critical care staff have a voice to advocate for their patients and themselves. In the era of COVID-19, when frontline healthcare workers literally risk their lives for their patients and need and deserve both protections and respect, that voice has never been more important.”

According to PASNAP, the union represents more than 9,000 frontline nurses and allied professionals across Pennsylvania.