Nurses rescind strike notice, hospital responds

EAST LIVERPOOL Citing what they say are “illegal” actions on the part of hospital officials, nurses at East Liverpool City Hospital have rescinded their strike notice and have filed several unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the Labor Board.

As a result, no vote was taken Friday on a proposed contract, and no strike will begin at the hospital today as had been feared, a union official said.

According to Mary Kay Hoppel, president of the East Liverpool Nurses Association (ELNA), “The nurses’ bargaining unit feels the hospital’s actions during negotiations are illegal. In the meantime, the nurses intend (to) report to work to care for our patients as usual while we wait to get a legal bargaining process restarted.”

She said no other information could be given at this time.

Hospital officials responded, saying they have filed their own ULP complaint against the union due to “misinformation” distributed to the public and ELNA members about what has been offered the union.

According to hospital officials, an offer had been made to the Ohio Nurses Association to present the contract offer during joint informational meetings so that membership could hear from both management and labor at the same time and have all questions answered, but that offer was declined.

Saying it hoped to “accurately portray” the details of the most recent offer, the hospital decided to publicize those details:

– Annual wage increases over the life of the contract leading to a top rate of almost $34 per hour

– Paid days off that would include as much as 28 vacation days and seven holidays per year

– Significant signing bonuses

– Overtime pay for any time worked over 40 hours in a week

– Two and one-half times pay for all major holiday hours worked

– Through an insurance plan, members gain broader access to additional physicians and services

– Tuition reimbursement of 100 percent

– Ability to achieve Magnet Facility status which recognizes excellence in nursing

– Short and long term disability, funded by the company

– Additional annual bonus opportunities

According to the hospital release, River Valley Health Partners (which operates East Liverpool City Hospital) is “currently accessing our financial resources to make necessary changes to ensure the future of our health system. All of our employees remain committed to the health and well-being of our community, and together we seek a prompt resolution to this matter.”

Despite the strike notice being rescinded, inpatient admissions continue to be limited, according to a hospital spokesman.

The following departments are still operational: Emergency, surgical, medical imaging, senior behavioral health, therapy, wound care center, laboratory services and cardiac rehab.

According to the spokesman, “Hospital management remains committed to negotiating; however, at this time, (no talks) are scheduled.”