Strike at Luzerne County nursing homes


Workers at facilities owned by Priority Healthcare went to the picket lines Friday morning.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — This is the first day of strike action by nursing home staff at 14 facilities across the state, including four here in our area.

At Wyoming Valley Gardens in Wilkes-Barre, dozens of people have signs in hand and have been picketing since 6 a.m. Friday.

Union officials say some facilities in our area reached tentative agreements before the strike date, but others, like Wyoming Valley Gardens and the Gardens at East Mountain in Luzerne County, are on the picket lines.

“I was on the phone last night from 10am to quarter to 12 last night, and we got nowhere,” local union president Toby Kibbler said.

These workers are not alone in the struggle. Across Pennsylvania, 14 facilities belonging to two of the state’s largest nursing home chains are on strike over what they call unfair labor practices.

In Luzerne County, East Mountain Gardens and Wyoming Valley Gardens in Luzerne County belong to one of these chains – Priority health.

“We all work hard, and we should be paid for it. You know, we all have families. We’ve been through the pandemic. I mean, we’re still going through it, and we should be paid for it and treated properly. We are humans, not just a number,” said a worker on the picket line.

Striking staff members told Newswatch 16 they did not want to quit their jobs, but they feel their demands for better pay, healthcare benefits and working conditions have not been met. satisfied after several rounds of negotiations

“We are 100% hard workers in this building. They call us, we come in. We work 16 hour shifts. This girl here has been here since 2 pm yesterday. She worked a full double, and she’s still here to fight for what we all deserve,” Kibbler said.

“It’s just frustrating, I’m angry, sad especially because of the patients because they are suffering the most, and that’s what we are here for, fighting for them so that we can give them the best care.”

In a statement from the gardens at East Mountain in Plains Township, officials say, in part:

“We want the public to know that we did not want our employees to follow the union and leave their jobs. We believe this is irresponsible in these difficult times. More importantly, we are fully staffed and providing care to our residents.”

No additional trading sessions are on the table.

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