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NURSES STRIKE Hagan: Criticism of Forum 'had the desired effect'



Published: Fri, June 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Hospital officials criticized the lawmaker for announcing a boycott without hearing their side of the dispute.

YOUNGSTOWN -- State Sen. Robert F. Hagan was to meet with Forum Health officials today after threatening to lead a boycott against the facilities where registered nurses have been on strike since May 1.

Hagan, of Youngstown, D-33rd, said his scathing criticism of Forum at a press conference Thursday "had the desired effect."

"It worked exactly as I wanted it to. I wanted to get their attention and I wanted to be involved," he said today. He said he would be glad to sit in on negotiations, if invited.

Monday deadline: Hagan has called for a boycott of Northside Medical Center, Tod Children's Hospital and the Beeghly Emergency and Surgery Centers if the strike was not settled by Monday. A federal mediator has already scheduled new talks starting Monday morning in Cleveland.

"I have sat back for six weeks and hoped they would settle this strike, but they have not moved off of square one," Hagan said during a press conference at the nurses' strike headquarters Thursday.

"It is up to Forum to settle this strike and if they don't, I am going to lead the charge in boycotting the hospital and lodging facilities where the replacement workers are staying," he said. "I'm giving them until the drop-dead date of Monday."

He criticized Forum for bringing in replacement nurses and said the company's plan to phase out mandatory overtime over three years is unacceptable. Members of the striking Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, which represents 771 registered nurses, have said mandatory overtime is the main issue in the dispute.

Evonne Woloshyn, Forum Health spokeswoman, said the lawmaker should have met with hospital officials and gathered all the "relevant facts" before siding with the nurses. Hagan did not contact Forum leaders before making his announcement, she said.

"Senator Hagan's decision not to try and understand both sides of the issue is unfair to Forum Health and our 4,500 other unionized and nonrepresented employees currently on the job," Woloshyn said in a press release.

Hagan acknowledged today he didn't meet with hospital officials before calling for a boycott. "I wanted to keep everything out in the open. I wanted to challenge both sides," he said.

Only some affected: He argued his boycott proposal would not affect as many Forum workers as Woloshyn claimed, because he is advocating a boycott of only those facilities where nurses are picketing. Other Forum facilities would not be affected.

Hagan's announcement came one day after leaders of several area labor unions announced plans for a Forum boycott. Participating unions include the Ohio Education Association, United Auto Workers Locals 1112 and 1714, Teamsters Local 377 and the Youngstown and Trumbull County units of AFL-CIO.




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