ELCH Nurses Contract Talks Heading to Mediation

EAST LIVERPOOL — Nurses at East Liverpool City Hospital continue to work without a contract. But negotiating teams expect to meet Feb. 12 with a federal mediator in an attempt to reach an agreement.

The contract for Ohio Nurses Association Local 5903, which governs sabout 130 registered nurses at the hospital, expired in June and, despite several negotiation sessions and a three-day strike in November, no agreement has been reached.  

Meanwhile, the hospital has announced plans to implement its last, final and best offer in absence of a new contract.

Nurse Melissa Cain addressed East Liverpool City Council this week, asking for continued support from the community and announcing that the facility’s owner, Prime Healthcare, had agreed to a mediator.

According to Cain, the hospital is “very short-staffed” not due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic but to lack of “attractive wages. We now have 28 open nursing positions since the strike. Thank God, the hospital has brought in LPNs [licensed practical nurses] who are assisting us greatly.”

Contacted after the meeting, ONA Director of Communications and Marketing Technology Molly Homan said in a prepared statement, “The nurses still do not have a contract with the hospital after months of contentious negotiations. The hospital has repeatedly refused to address important issues while the nurses have made many good faith attempts to reach a fair contract.”

Homan said the nurses are hopeful the hospital will come to the mediation session ” with the flexibility and willingness to collaborate with their nurses to reach a settlement that acknowledges the hospital’s problematic history of retaining nurses.” 

She added, “We continue to thank the community for [its] ongoing support.”

Also contacted after the meeting, hospital officials said the ELCH negotiating team will be meeting with the union and mediator. “We look forward to a productive meeting and answering any questions presented by the ONA Local 5903. We hope ONA has taken the time since our last meeting to reconsider our last, best, and final offer,” said President and CEO Keith Richardson in a statement.

“As we move into 2021, we will continue to provide the award winning health care we have been nationally recognized for in the safest environment possible amidst our nation’s current health care environment.” 

Meanwhile, Cain invited the community to participate today in a car rally to support the nurses. It begins at 11:45 a.m. with line-up at East Liverpool High School, 100 Maine Blvd., and ending at the hospital on Fifth Street.

Those participating are welcome to decorate their vehicles, Cain said 

A letter of support has been prepared by Councilman John Mercer, who advised council it will be forwarded to Prime Healthcare.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.