Nurses Ratify Contract at EL City Hospital

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — Nurses represented by the Ohio Nurses Association at East Liverpool City Hospital overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year agreement Friday evening.

According to the union, the agreement is a “significant improvement over the hospital’s rejected previous final offer that left the nurses without a contract for more than a year and a half.

“This hasn’t been an easy journey for any of us, but I am so proud of our union nurses for continuing to stand up for what’s right and necessary,” said Bobbie Kerns, president of the East Liverpool Nurses Association and ICU nurse, in a statement. “The nursing profession is in crisis, with more than 40% considering leaving the profession. It’s more important than ever for changes that will recruit and retain nurses at the bedside. And while this agreement is far superior to the hospital previous proposal, we still must work together to make sure nurses choose East Liverpool City Hospital instead of neighboring facilities.”

In a statement released to The Business Journal, the hospital administration said it is “pleased we reached an agreement with Ohio Nurses Association that will ultimately benefit our employees, patients and all those we serve as one of our nation’s top hospitals. East Liverpool City Hospital has always placed patient care and patient safety as our highest priority, and has recently earned recognition among the “100 Top Hospitals” in the nation and an “A” rating from The Leapfrog Group.”

The statement concluded by thanking “all staff members for their dedication to excellent patient care.”

Among the provisions of the new contract with the nurses, according to the union:

  • A new wage scale with nurses receiving a minimum 5% increase.
  • A retroactive wage increase date of June 12, 2022. 
  • Protections if health care plans change and a cap on potential increased costs through the term of the agreement. 
  • Improvements in tuition reimbursement and differentials. 
  • Maintaining contract provisions that recognize nurses’ legal and ethical obligation to advocate for their patients and requiring the hospital to involve nurses in decisions affecting “changes in the delivery of care.”
  • Maintaining and improving other important working conditions that allow nurses to have a healthy work-life balance.

The hospital also has committed to bargain with ONA over the allocation of a portion of a one-time payment from the Ohio Department of Medicaid received by the hospital in June 2022, the union said. The payment was made to the hospital pursuant to House Bill 169 passed in December 2021. The bill requires the payment to be used as “Workforce Incentive Payments” and must be used for direct care staff.

In February, the hospital was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to bargain in good faith, read aloud a statement guaranteeing the hospital won’t violate nurses’ federal labor rights, and pay over $170,000 in backpay to the nurses after initially denying any wrongdoing. More than 40 nurses received amounts ranging from $1,000 to more than $5,000 in backpay, the union said.

The Ohio Nurses Association unit at the Hospital consists of about 110 registered nurses, 20% fewer than when negotiations began in summer 2020. The new agreement will expire July 21, 2025.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from the hospital.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.