No new talks are scheduled

By William K. Alcorn


Four and one-half hours of negotiations Wednesday between registered nurses at Northside Medical Center and the hospital failed to produce a new work agreement.

There was no official change in ValleyCare Northside’s final offer, and no new talks are scheduled, said Eric Williams, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, which represents about 420 RNs at the hospital.

Williams would not discuss details of Wednesday’s negotiations, nor would he say whether the union is ready to deliver a 10-day strike notice to ValleyCare.

Trish Hrina, director of ValleyCare and Northside communications and marketing, said the hospital would not comment on the talks.

The YGDNA membership, which has been without a contract since July 19, 2012, on Aug. 2 authorized its bargaining committee to call a strike.

Nurses say their primary concern is about patient care.

They oppose the hospital’s proposal that the YGDNA says includes the ability to send nurses home anytime the patient population drops below a certain level; and would effectively put a “gag order” on nurses and prohibit them from speaking out for patient quality and professional standards, Williams said.

In a previous statement, ValleyCare Northside said there is nothing in its final offer that would prevent nurses from reporting events or issues that impact patient safety and quality of care.

While patient safety is the nurses’ primary concern, Williams said the hospital’s proposal to eliminate the nurses’ salary schedule is unacceptable, especially when RNs at Northside haven’t had a wage increase in eight years. Nurses start at $23.94 an hour. The top wage is $29.88, the YGDNA reported.

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