Impasse Declared in East Liverpool City Hospital Nurses’ Negotiations

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — Officials of East Liverpool City Hospital said Thursday negotiations with the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) have reached an impasse, with no new bargaining sessions announced, but nurses are nonetheless receiving wage increases.

Members of ONA/ELNA Local 5903 and hospital officials met Tuesday for the first time since Nov. 17, after which ONA Director of Communications Molly Homan said the hospital failed to address a new offer made by the union.

Registered nurses governed by the union walked out Nov. 21 for a limited-day strike, returning to work Nov. 24 in an effort to make their demands known.

Regarding Tuesday’s bargaining session, the hospitals director of marketing and business development, Rick Perez, said in a press release Wednesday that discussions had resumed regarding the hospital’s last, best and final offer presented Nov. 17 “in order to achieve an agreement that was beneficial to nurses and our community.”

Perez said good faith efforts were made by the hospital to address the union’s questions and provide relevant requested information, but the ONA was still unwilling to accept the hospital’s offer.

“Because the parties are at an impasse, and the union’s actions have resulted in withholding increased wages to the bargaining unit nurses, (the hospital) will proceed with providing its last proposed wage increases to the RNs,” Perez said.

In a social media post prior to the three-day strike, the hospital had listed the rate of pay scale it considers its last and final offer. The wages range from $27 per hour for a nurse with no years of experience to $33.60 per hour for a nurse with 15 years of experience. The scale included percentage increases through 2023 and tuition reimbursement.

Union members have said the wages are not competitive with other medical facilities in the area.

Nonetheless, Perez said Wednesday the hospital has begun granting the raises included in that offer to the nurses on staff since no new agreement has been reached.

“At East Liverpool City Hospital, patient care and safety is our top priority,” Perez said. “Our hospital is prepared to safely care for our patients and deliver the high-quality care we have been recognized for, care that has resulted in three consecutive years of prestigious recognition as a 100 Top Hospital by IBM Watson Health, multiple Leapfrog Grade ‘A’ awards for patient safety and numerous Healthgrades five-star ratings.”

In November, as the nurses returned to work after the limited-day strike, an ONA negotiator said a traditional, potentially long-lasting strike would not be out of the question if a fair contract could not be reached. At the time, the union said they planned the limited day-strike in recognition of the on-going COVID pandemic and their desire to be the ones caring for patients instead of replacement nurses, while still showing hospital officials they “meant business” in the quest for a fair contract.

The nurses’ contract expired Nov. 21 after two extensions and after 11 bargaining sessions failed to result in a new pact.

Homan had no comment but indicated the union will have a response Friday. No future bargaining sessions have been announced.

Related coverage:

Nov. 21, 2020: Nurses Walk out at East Liverpool City Hospital, Cite Unfair Labor Practices
Nov. 24, 2020: Nurses Back on Job at ELCH, Await New Contract Talks
Dec. 8, 2020: Still No Agreement for East Liverpool Nurses

Pictured at top: Two members of the nurses union on the picket line outside of East Liverpool City Hospital on Nov. 21.

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