Northside Nurses Walk Picket Line to Maintain Quality Care
National Union Leader Joins Call for Hospital’s Management and Corporate Owners To Return to Bargaining Table and Discuss Issues With Potential Impact on Patients
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nurses at Northside Medical Center conducted a one-day work stoppage today as they stepped up efforts to reach a new contract that will allow the hospital to maintain its award-winning patient care and clinical operations.
Members of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association voted to call the one-day, unfair labor practice strike after 15 months of on-again, off-again bargaining failed to produce an agreement and Northside’s management and corporate owners showed little interest in discussing concerns raised by their contract proposals.
“We’re ready and willing to bargain around the clock to reach an agreement,” said YGDNA President Eric Williams. “But we have to have someone to talk to–and Northside management and Community Health Systems Inc., the hospital’s for-profit owner, have been unwilling to discuss the issues we have raised that relate to the quality of patient care.”
Some contract terms proposed by Northside and the Nashville-based CHS have the potential to undermine nurses’ ability to speak out in the future about issues such as safety and patient care, Williams said. Nurses currently have the contractual right to bring up such concerns. YGDNA members are also concerned about CHS proposals that could lead to the rationing of nursing care at the hospital.
When nurses hit the picket line at 7 a.m. Tuesday, they were joined by American Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President Francine Lawrence, who is a Youngstown native. The AFT is the national union with which the Ohio Nurses Association is affiliated. ONA is the official bargaining agent for the Northside nurses.
“Nurses are out here today standing up for quality patient care at Northside,” Lawrence said. “I came to Youngstown today to stand with the nurses in my hometown in their effort to get a contract that recognizes their professional standards and values, that advances the hospital, and that serves the community.”
Negotiators for the nurses have said that the last bargaining session on Sept. 11 produced some progress toward establishing a dialogue between the two sides, but fell far short of generating an agreement. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has called on hospital management to reach a “fair and equitable” agreement with Northside nurses, and earlier this month offered his assistance in the process.
But rather than schedule more bargaining sessions, Williams said, Northside and CHS hired outside nurses at $55 an hour, more than the hospital pays Youngstown nurses who live in this community and serve its people every day.
“Our bargaining team is hopeful that by calling attention to the need for the two sides to resume talks, we will help the employer and our community understand how important it is that we all make a commitment to strengthen and expand the dialogue that began to emerge earlier this month,” said Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer for ONA. “It is not too late to reach a fair agreement.”
SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association