GroundworkThe ShortsValley With a Heart

Over decades of working as nurses, Lori Schmidt and Elaine Weale have seen healthcare become a profit-driven, assembly line industry. Every single day is a struggle to give the best care without enough staffing or supplies. When they joined the union, they were doing what their parents and grandparents taught them to do – standing up for what’s right. Drawing on family traditions and community pride, the Wyoming Valley Nurse’s Association is organizing for better patient care with nurses across Pennsylvania.

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Wyoming Valley Nurses Association

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, formed in 2000 under the banner of “Patients Before Profits,” is a statewide union of about 6000 healthcare professionals. One local in the Pennsylvania coal region, the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association, has fought the decline in patient care under one of the largest for-profit health systems in the US, Community Health Systems.

History of the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association


After several years of complaints, the Pennsylvania office of the Auditor General announces that it will investigate the Department of Labor’s enforcement of Act 102.


Nurses on strike again over staffing and unfair labor practices.


Nurses strike against CHS again over poor staffing and unfair labor practices. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor avoids enforcing a single violation of Act 102, and nurses lobby for enforcement.


Nurses begin investigating and documenting violations of Act 102 by CHS.


Community Health Systems (CHS) purchases the Wyoming Valley Healthcare System, taking control of the hospital. After immediate reductions in staff, unfair labor practices, and changes in patient care, nurses strike and win concessions from CHS.


The state of Pennsylvania passes Act 102, a law prohibiting mandatory overtime in healthcare facilities unless there is “an unforeseeable declared national, state, or municipal emergency… or catastrophic event.”


Wilkes-Barre nurses strike for three weeks in midwinter over the misuse of mandatory overtime.


The WBGNA becomes a founding member of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP). PASNAP immediately begins lobbying against mandatory overtime, the practice of forcing healthcare workers to stay past the end of their shift and continue working.


Wilkes-Barre General Hospital merges with Nesbitt Hospital to becoming the Wyoming Valley Healthcare System.


Nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital form a union, the Wilkes-Barre General Nurses Association (WBGNA).