By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The nurses strike at Forum Health facilities in Mahoning County looks now like it will go on for a long time, according to a top union official.
Bonnie Lambert, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, said Wednesday afternoon that the nurses are very disappointed that Forum Health rejected the union's comprehensive proposal made last Saturday. In it, the nurses agreed to the use of agency nurses for any time slots not filled by regular staffers, she said.
Counterproposal: Forum Health rejected the union proposal and came back Monday with a counterproposal containing more mandatory overtime issues, Lambert said.
She said Forum Health previously said if the nurses wanted to get rid of mandatory overtime, the hospital would need the ability to use agency nurses. The union agreed to that and the proposal was rejected, she said.
However, hospital spokeswoman Evonne M. Woloshyn said Forum Health is waiting for the nurses to respond to its Monday counter-proposal. She accused the nurses union of characterizing the status of the bargaining unfairly, and called on YGDNA and the Ohio Nurses Association to "put their energy and efforts into resolving these issues at the bargaining table."
Federal mediator: At this point, the issue of when talks resume is in the hands of Federal Mediator Jennifer Flecher.
The mediator thinks both sides are stuck, and she's right, Lambert said.
"We're not going to give up any more. We're probably no further now than when we went on strike," she said.
Lambert said about 300 nurses attended negotiations update meetings Wednesday. "The nurses want a fair package, but don't want to be insulted," she said.
Mandatory overtime, seniority rights and economic issues, such as wages and pensions, remain major roadblocks to a settlement, Lambert said.