ValleyCare unhappy with threat

Staff report


ValleyCare Northside Medical Center has expressed its displeasure with a strike threat issued by its nurses union.

Representatives from the hospital, owned by ValleyCare Health System of Ohio, issued a news release Friday saying they’re disappointed the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association is contemplating a strike when mediated bargaining sessions are scheduled to take place this week.

“We hope the union will not ask its members to abandon their patients and engage in a costly and disruptive strike,” Trish Hrina, media representative, said in a news release. “It is our desire that a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached with the union.”

The comments were in response to the union negotiating team’s issuing a 10-day strike notice to the hospital system Thursday. Union members are upset about the lack of progress regarding contract negotiations.

YGDNA President Eric Williams said previously that staffing and wages are the primary issues.

The YGDNA represents about 400 registered nurses at ValleyCare Northside Medical Center on Gypsy Lane. Their work agreement expires Thursday.

Williams said previously that the union has not had a pay raise since 2006 and gave millions of dollars in concessions, such as a freeze on longevity increases, personal days and holidays to the financially struggling Forum Health that the new owner does not need.

But Northside representatives said the contract was accepted with the union’s authorization when ValleyCare purchased the Forum health care system.

ValleyCare’s statement outlines information regarding current negotiations, stating that, “Because the [union] has engaged in a very public campaign, we are compelled to provide important facts about our negotiations.”

The news release said the union asked for a 12 percent wage increase in the contract’s first year and 5 percent increases each year for the next two years.

Williams said previously that ValleyCare is proposing to send nurses home four days within four shifts in two-week pay periods. For full-time nurses, that could be up to a 50 percent cut in pay; for some part-time nurses it could result in no pay because they wouldn’t work at all, the union has said.

Hrina said in the news release that the hospital needs the flexibility to reduce, as well as increase, staffing when necessary, and it doesn’t mean the nurses will actually be sent home. “We are seeking the ability to adjust staffing — up or down — to mirror patient needs.”

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