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SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The for-profit corporate owner of Northside Medical Center continued its tactics of bullying and intimidation by locking out local nurses who tried to return to work this morning after exercising their legal right to a one-day, unfair labor practice strike.
The selective lockout implemented by the employer specifically targeted nurses who were scheduled to work on Tuesday, when the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, a local unit of the Ohio Nurses Association, conducted a one-day work stoppage at the hospital.
"All of our nurses reported for duty this morning as scheduled, and management told some of us that we would not be allowed to work," said YGDNA President Eric Williams. "Community Health Systems and local management are locking out nurses who courageously stood up for quality patient care."
Williams said Northside nurses remain totally committed to their fight to reach agreement on a new contract. "We made a unified decision this morning that nurses allowed to report for duty should do so, while others who have been locked out will remain outside," Williams said. "We think Youngstown nurses should be taking care of Youngstown patients. The out-of-state corporation that owns Northside apparently feels any staffing pattern will do."
Nurses were locked out when they attempted to return to their shift at 7 a.m. after a successful one-day strike Tuesday that drew attention to their concerns about contract issues that affect quality patient care. On the eve of the strike, management tried to intimidate the nurses by threatening to fire them and by challenging a strike notice nurses issued earlier this month.
"The real nurses, whose work made Northside an award-winning hospital, are being kicked out." Williams said. "Our members are local nurses with local families who understand the needs of Youngstown patients. Instead, we have an out-of-state corporation making decisions about health care in our community."
The one-day job action garnered widespread community backing, including pledges of support from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, State Reps. Robert F. Hagan, Ronald V. Gerberry and State Sen. Joe Schiavoni. Other lawmakers pledging support for the nurses include State Sen. Capri S. Cafaro and State Reps. Nick Barborak and Tom Letson.
Lawmakers called on the Tennessee-based, for-profit CHS to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair and equitable contract with nurses. AFT Executive Vice President Francine Lawrence, who joined nurses on the picket line Tuesday, also called for CHS to return to the table.
"CHS doesn't appear to see or understand the support we're getting," said Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer for the Ohio Nurses Association, the official bargaining agent for the Northside nurses. ONA is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, which also has actively supported the Youngstown nurses. "We have said repeatedly that we will work 24 hours, seven days a week to get an agreement, but we will not be intimidated into accepting a deal that is bad for patients, bad for Northside and bad for Youngstown."
Members of YGDNA have been working without a contract for 15 months. The nurses have been concerned about proposals from the Tennessee-based owner that would affect quality patient care. Those include a proposal to ration nurses by sending them home when patient admissions fluctuate, and a proposal that would prohibit nurses from speaking out about patient safety and quality care issues.
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