Thu 8:12pm: Northside nurses plan one-day strike

YOUNGSTOWN – Nurses at Northside Medical Center today gave notice they plan to conduct a one-day, unfair labor practice strike on Sept. 24. The hospital said the strike will not interrupt services.

The union representing the nurses issued the notice after noting that despite some progress in bargaining on Wednesday, the dialogue failed to produce an agreement on issues that could affect quality patient care.

“No one wants to go on strike, but we will take whatever steps are necessary to maintain the high standard of care for which Northside is known,” said Eric Williams, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association.

“For the last 15 months, the hospital’s corporate owner, the Nashville-based, for-profit Community Health Systems, refused to even discuss issues that affect the Youngstown community. Our talks this week advanced the discussion, but they must move beyond their take-it-or-leave it approach.”

Shortly after the union’s announcement, Trish Hrina, vice president of marketing and public relations released the hospital’s statement: “The The Ohio Nurses Association has notified us of their intent to conduct a strike and picketing at the hospital on Sept. 24. We will be prepared to maintain all hospital services and our commitment to safe, high-quality patient care will continue without interruption.

“The conduct of a strike and picketing will not alter the hospital’s position at the bargaining table. Our final offer to the O.N.A. mirrors the wage increases, comprehensive benefits and low volume staffing terms overwhelmingly approved by five other ValleyCare bargaining units, including another unit represented by the O.N.A.”

The two sides negotiated for more than four hours Wednesday. It was the first attempt to work out terms of a new contract since the union last month defeated what the hospital termed its “final offer.”

About 430 nurses represented by the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association / Ohio Nurses Association have been working more than a year without a labor pact. Union members on Aug. 6 overwhelmingly defeated what the hospital described as its “final offer” and instead gave authorization to strike.

Neither side released details about the bargaining session.

Read more on this story in the Friday Tribune Chronicle.