Sen. Hagan defends his boycott decisions
The senator said he wanted to 'set the stage for a definition of mandatory overtime.'
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- State Sen. Robert F. Hagan said he did not postpone his call for a boycott of Forum Health facilities in support of striking nurses because of a threat by the Youngstown-Warren Area Chamber of Commerce to publicly criticize him for his stance.
Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd, said he called off the boycott because it looked at the time like a meeting he had arranged between two Forum Health trustees and nurses' union leadership had produced progress toward a settlement.
"I just wanted to set the stage for a definition of mandatory overtime," he said Thursday of the meeting between Drs. Earnest Perry and Nazim Jaffer, Forum Health trustees, and Bonnie Lambert, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, and another union official.
Mandatory overtime was a major reason the nurses struck Forum Health on May 1, and Hagan said it was clear the doctors and the nurses were working under a different definition of the issue.
Meeting's outcome: He said a definition was hammered out and Dr. Jaffer was to take the information back to the Forum Health negotiating team. But, that did not occur before the next talks as he had hoped. Hagan said he had hoped the nurses and doctors could be allies and lean on the Forum Health negotiating committee.
At the time, Evonne Woloshyn, Forum Health spokeswoman, said Hagan should have met with hospital officials to understand their side of the issues before calling for the boycott. Hagan did not contact Forum leaders before making his announcement, she said.
But Hagan said he had placed three calls to Forum Health Chief Executive Officer Kris Hoce which were not returned. He said Woloshyn did call but he is still waiting to hear from the Forum Health administration. Woloshyn said she was speaking on behalf of Hoce.
Regarding pressure from the chamber of commerce, Hagan said the "chamber didn't lean on me, I leaned on them."
Soon after Hagan called for the boycott he received a call from Tom Humphries, chamber president, who said his membership was outraged by Hagan's call for a boycott.
Senator's explanation: Hagan said he explained to Humphries that he had postponed the boycott after the meeting he arranged seemed to be productive, and then the chamber canceled its plans to have a press conference.
But, Hagan said he also told Humphries that if the chamber had a press conference to criticize him, he would have his own press conference to blast the chamber for interfering in the negotiating process.
Humphries said in response Thursday he did not want to dig up corpses. "The Senator's comments [on the boycott] were of concern to us and we were satisfied with his response in the short term," he said.