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Forum Health fails to show up for negotiations



Published: Fri, May 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Striking nurses at Forum Health were expecting to negotiate with Forum Health's management Thursday afternoon, but the management team didn't show up for the talks, a member of the nurses' bargaining committee said.

The negotiating committee for the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association arrived at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Boardman as did federal mediator Jennifer Flesher, but all that was forthcoming from Forum Health was a proposal it had faxed to the mediator, said Linda Warino, a former YGDNA president and union bargaining committee member.

"It was a slightly modified version of what's been on the table all along," Warino said.

About proposal: The proposal contained no wage improvements and no change in management's position on mandatory overtime, she added. The nurses' dislike for mandatory overtime is a key issue in the strike. The negotiating team rejected the hospital's faxed offer, she said.

About 766 nurses belonging to the YGDNA have been on strike since May 1 against Forum Health Northside Medical Center and Beeghly Medical Park. Five union members have crossed the picket lines and returned to work. No new negotiations are scheduled.

"We were very clear, in the event that they [Forum Health officials] were willing to negotiate -- and that does not include faxed copies with no human representation -- that we are very willing. We will be there," Warino said.

Bishop's plea: Meanwhile, in a news release, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, has urged all parishes in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties to "pray for a speedy, just and peaceful resolution of the strikes."

Striking Teamsters were to be given free bags of groceries for them and their families today at Teamster Hall. The food has been paid for by the Teamsters and members of other AFL-CIO affiliated unions.

Union-paid strike benefits for the Teamsters will begin Saturday, with the workers receiving between $55 and $210 a week, depending on several factors, including their earnings on the job and how many hours they picket, said Ray DePasquale, Teamster business agent. All able-bodied strikers must picket in order to collect strike benefits, he said.

Nurses at Forum receive no strike benefits, but a peer assistance fund can provide no-interest loans repayable after the nurses return to work, YGDNA officials said.

Walked off site: DePasquale said about 20 union workers walked off a construction site at Belmont and Lexington avenues, where a water treatment plant is being built for St. Elizabeth. He added that other union construction workers remodeling within the hospital have walked off their jobs for the duration of the strike against the hospital.

Warino said the nurses did not object to construction workers finishing a job at Beeghly Medical Park in Boardman because the nurses didn't want their dispute with Forum to deprive construction workers of their incomes.

milliken@vindy.com




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