Nurses believe reasonable solutions are possible
The Youngstown General Duty Nurse Association, after its membership’s rejection Tuesday of ValleyCare Health System’s final contract officer, wants to get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible.
A letter was sent Wednesday to the negotiating team of Community Health System, parent of ValleyCare, requesting the resumption of contract negotiations.
“We think there are reasonable solutions to our issues,” said Eric Williams, president of YGDNA, which represents more than 400 registered nurses at Northside Medical Center on Gypsy Lane. The nurses have been working without a contract since July 19, 2012.
“One of our problems is that we are not negotiating with anybody from Youngstown ... people who understand the area. We are negotiating with people from out of state,” he said.
ValleyCare spokeswoman Trish Hrina said the company has no further comments beyond those made Tuesday after the contract was rejected.
“ValleyCare is still pursuing a resolution to the negotiations,” she said. “We are committed to continuing in a productive, mutually beneficial and respectful relationship with all of our employees.”
“Northside is a great hospital, but we have concerns about things such as ‘nurse rationing,’” Williams said.
How does a hospital send a nurse home then try to get one back in a timely manner if there is an emergency? Williams asked.
“You can’t predict an emergency,” he added. “Our nurses really believe that this is a fight for patient safety and quality care. It’s just really unfortunate that the out-of-state corporate managers that we’re negotiating with are approaching care in the [Mahoning] Valley with a one-size-fits-all approach, sacrificing patient care just to increase their profits.”
Williams said the union may contact members of Northside’s Advisory Committee in the near future and ask them to get involved. The nurses also have authorized the issuance of a 10-day strike notice, if necessary.
He said the company has sort of a “canned statement” that the contract offered to Northside nurses mirrors the ones accepted by ValleyCare hospital nurses at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Howland and Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren.