Nurses Ratify Contract with Salem Regional Medical Center

SALEM, Ohio – Nurses at Salem Regional Medical Center, represented by the Ohio Nurses Association and AFT, announced Sunday that they have ratified a new three-year contract, averting a strike that was set to begin Monday.

Nurses voted over the weekend on the pact. The union did not provide the final vote tally.

“Nurses solidarity and the overwhelming support we received from the community forced hospital executives to address our demands for patient and nurse safety at the bargaining table,” said Sara Harkleroad, president of the Salem Registered Nurses Association and oncology nurse at Salem Regional Medical Center. “Though we didn’t get minimum staffing standards included in this contract, we will continue to push hospital executives to make this a mandate so the safety of patients, nurses, and all of the hospital’s health professionals is a top priority and requirement.”

According to a press release from the ONA, the new contract “includes several key provisions that support safe, sustainable patient care.” They include:

  • “A commitment from the hospital to collaborate with the ONA local nurses to address staffing levels and guidelines across all patient care units.
  • “Improvements to the wage scale to bring nurses’ pay closer to the market to attract and retain skilled nurses and resolves internal inequities by paying all nurses based on their years of experience as registered nurses.
  • “Maintenance or enhancement of important working conditions related to leave time and work-life balance, reflecting the union’s emphasis on promoting a healthy work-life balance among nurses.
  • “Preservation of a final and binding arbitration victory achieved by the union in 2023, protecting nurses from involuntary transfers and other changes in working conditions, recognizing the crucial role of the nurses’ autonomy and stable working conditions in ensuring patient safety.”

The press release cited Ohio House Bill 285, the Nurse Workforce and Safe Patient Care Act, which includes legally enforceable minimum nurse-to-patient staffing standards, whistleblower protection, and a loan-to-grant program to strengthen the nursing workforce.

“This contract offer is a big step in the right direction but the battle to achieve minimum staffing standards in all of Ohio’s hospitals is far from over,” said Rick Lucas, ONA president and executive director. “ONA will not back down until House Bill 285 is passed and all Ohio hospitals have legally enforceable safe staffing standards in place.”          

Debbie Pietrzak, vice president of marketing at SRMC, released a statement late Sunday. “Resolution of the contract reflects our shared goals of providing the highest-quality patient care and creating a safe and supportive working environment for all our staff,” she said.

While unable to share any details, Pietrzake said the agreement offers SRMC nurses a competitive compensation package reflective of the Mahoning Valley market and confirms to the union that SRMC follows safe staffing standards. 

“We want to thank all of our SRMC staff for the exceptional care they provide to our patients every day and our community for their continued support. SRMC is a great organization with great staff, and we have faithfully served this community for 110 years. We remain committed to this mission,” 
Pietrzak concluded.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.