Nurses Union Awaits Next Move in Wake of 'Bad Faith' Charge
July 19, 2009
YOUNGSTOWN — A nurses’ strike at Northside Medical Center is not imminent.
However, in a document filed recently in federal bankruptcy court, the nurses union said the membership is prepared to strike rather than permit Forum to engage in what the union called “the bad-faith reneging on a tentative agreement with impunity.”
Forum filed in March for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 11 calls for reorganization, rather than liquidation.
Those union comments were preceded by members of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association/Ohio Nurses Association at Northside reportedly voting July 8 to give its union the authority to call a strike.
At this point, no date for a strike has been established, said Linda Warino, executive director of District Three, Ohio Nurses Association.
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The issue of a strike arose after the nurses approved a tentative agreement with Forum that included $4.4 million in concessions. But, the hospital system’s board of trustees rejected the pact, saying the concessions’ ending in 18 months was too soon to permit Forum to become financially stable, leading to the ONA’s charging Forum with bad-faith bargaining.
Now, however, Forum spokeswoman Trish Hrina said the hospital system is in the process of scheduling negotiation sessions with the nurses union. Also, she said Walter Pishkur, Forum president and chief executive officer, is having meetings with employees represented by ONA to “provide a general update on Forum Health, what our process is in reorganizing Northside, and to emphasize that we need their support.”
“We are optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement that meets the needs of our nurses and allows us to move forward and succeed in our financial plans,” Hrina said.
Negotiating sessions between Forum and the Service Employees International Union District 1199, which represents service workers and some technicians at Northside, were scheduled for July 15 and July 22.
Looming ahead in the contract disputes between Forum and the ONA and SEIU are hearings in bankruptcy court on whether the court should reject the contracts between the parties. Forum has asked the court to set aside the contracts as a necessity for it to emerge from bankruptcy.
The hearing for the nurses contract is at 9:30 a.m. July 23. The SEIU hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. July 27.
© YellowBrix 2009