Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Northside Nurses Press Hospital and Its Corporate Owners To Resume Regular, Ongoing Talks Aimed at New Contract

August 15, 2013

Union Strike Committee Meets, Sets Job Fair to Assist Members If Employer Refuses to Bargain

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Aug. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nurses at Northside Medical Center today called on the hospital’s management and corporate owners to return to the bargaining table immediately for serious, ongoing talks aimed at reaching a new contract.

Leaders of the Youngstown nurses and the Ohio Nurses Association said it is time for the hospital and Community Health Systems–Northside’s Nashville-based, for-profit corporate owner–to give the needs of Youngstown patients top priority by returning to the bargaining table immediately to resume contract talks.

“Instead of resolving issues with the Northside nursing staff, management so far appears intent on a go-slow approach that would set bargaining sessions far in the future,” said Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association President Eric Williams. “CHS seems more interested in fighting a Justice Department investigation of its hospitals’ admissions policies or pursuing a merger deal that would add more hospitals to its portfolio. We think our community would be better served if the CHS team would come to the bargaining table now–ready to resolve issues that determine the quality of care in Youngstown.”

After last week’s overwhelming vote by Northside nurses to reject management’s most recent contract offer, YGDNA and the Ohio Nurses Association renewed their request for an immediate return to the bargaining table. Without the employer’s willingness to meet face to face with the union and engage in direct discussions, Williams said, nurses have no choice but to prepare for every contingency.

That process began Wednesday night with a meeting of the YGDNA strike committee, where members considered possible work actions if the parties are not able to reach agreement. In the first element of that planning, the committee scheduled a Job Fair for September 5. That event is intended to assist members find temporary placements should a strike at Northside become necessary.

“We are confident that outcome can be avoided if management will just come to the bargaining table ready and willing to participate in real discussion of the issues that separate us,” Williams said. “Those issues have everything to do with our concerns about the potential effects of management’s offer on the quality of patient care.”

Northside nurses rejected the proposals pushed by CHS executives, Williams said, “because they threaten to produce nurse rationing. The offer rejected last week would also prevent nurses from speaking out on future patient safety issues and undermine the stability of the nursing staff.”

So far, Williams said, Northside and CHS executives have refused to engage in direct and meaningful discussion of how their proposals could affect patient care and the strength of clinical operations for which Northside is known.

The Ohio Nurses Association, the statewide union that is the official bargaining agent for the Northside nurses, said the Youngstown unit is standing up for the hospital’s long record of award-winning patient care.

“Northside nurses have real, professional concerns about the potential impact of some of management’s proposals on the hospital’s outstanding performance,” said Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer of the ONA, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. “Nobody wants mediocre care. Great hospitals don’t do the things that CHS executives in Nashville want to put into Northside’s contract.”

Williams said an agreement that will be good for patients, nurses and the operation of the hospital is possible if the CHS-Northside bargaining team is willing to bargain in good faith. “A take-it-or-leave-it approach will never lead to the kind of collaboration that produces the high-quality care the Youngstown community deserves and has come to expect from our hospital,” he said.

SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association

Source: PR Newswire