Northside Medical Center Nurses: ‘Let’s Get Back to the Table’
Strike Can Be Averted if Management Addresses Issues Linked to Quality Care
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nurses at Northside Medical Center today renewed their call for management to resume negotiations and resolve issues that could affect the quality of patient care.
Last week, the union representing the nurses gave notice that they plan to conduct a one-day unfair labor practice strike Tuesday, Sept. 24. At this point, the federal mediator handling negotiations has not called the two sides back to the bargaining table.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown called on hospital management to reach a “fair and equitable” agreement with Northside nurses, and offered his assistance in the process.
“We are willing to bargain 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to avoid a strike,” said Eric Williams, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association. “The sticking points are issues concerning quality patient care, and for most of the last 15 months, the employer has refused to even discuss them.”
Meanwhile, American Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President Francine Lawrence, a Youngstown native, announced that she will join nurses on the picket line Tuesday morning. The AFT is the national affiliate of the Ohio Nurses Association, the statewide union that is the official bargaining agent for the Northside nurses.
ONA issued the strike notice Sept. 12–the day after the last negotiating session. Despite some progress, the Sept. 11 talks failed to produce an agreement.
“We need to build on the dialogue that began last week,” said Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer for ONA. “The only way we can get movement on the issues that separate us is to be at the bargaining table. It’s not too late for that to happen.”
Nurses remain concerned that terms proposed by Northside management and the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc., the for-profit owner of the hospital, have the potential to undermine their ability to speak out in the future about issues such as safety and patient care. Nurses currently have the contractual right to bring up such concerns. They are also concerned about CHS proposals that could lead to the rationing of nursing care at the hospital.
Trautner and Williams both said the unfair labor practice strike would be part of ongoing efforts to highlight the issues still dividing the two sides–matters that nurses believe could undermine Northside’s award-winning patient care and clinical operations.
Last month, YGDNA members overwhelmingly rejected the most recent offer from CHS executives and Northside management.
SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association