Hospital claims no wrongdoing, fights nurses and National Labor Relations Board instead of treating caregivers fairly during the pandemic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Molly Homan | [email protected] | 614-746-9914
EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Rather than ending its labor dispute with nurses and the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA), Prime Health continues to attack the of rights nurses and refuses to remedy East Liverpool City Hospital’s serious violations of federal labor law. Following a year-long government investigation, this week the Hospital denied any wrongdoing in response to formal complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, one of the nation’s most important labor laws.
In late December, the NLRB served Prime Health-East Liverpool City Hospital representatives with a multi-count complaint alleging that the hospital broke federal laws by its treatment of registered nurses and its conduct during negotiations with the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA), the union which has represented the nurses for decades. The Hospital committed multiple and ongoing unfair labor practices while its nurses continue to work long hours under difficult conditions caring for patients during a state-wide surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
After negotiations broke down in the fall of 2020, ONA filed charges with the federal government in response to the Hospital’s misconduct. The NLRB found that the Hospital failed to properly pay registered nurses, engaged in bad faith bargaining, refused to provide the union with information about hospital working conditions, unlawfully cut off negotiations, and made unlawful changes to nurses’ conditions of employment.
“This is no longer a disagreement between us and the Hospital. After a long and detailed investigation, an independent federal agency has charged East Liverpool City Hospital with acting unlawfully. With a trial approaching, it’s extremely disappointing that the Hospital appears ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting nurses and the federal government instead of investing those funds in their staff to ensure quality patient care,” said Bob Cousins, Deputy Executive Officer of Labor Relations for ONA.
“Nurses are underpaid at East Liverpool City Hospital, and believe the Hospital’s lack of competitiveness is severely hampering their ability to appropriately staff and care for their patients. Registered nurses in the Emergency Department, ICU and Inpatient Units have been forced to care for more patients than the staffing guidelines require. The staffing guidelines are based on recognized best practices in hospital settings. We can’t believe the Hospital prioritizes fighting for their pride instead of fighting for their patients, employees and community,” continued Cousins.
The government’s complaint against East Liverpool City Hospital requires the Hospital to take remedial action to protect and restore the rights of nurses, including paying nurses six months of backpay and reading a statement assuring them that Hospital management will refrain from further violations of the law. Absent a resolution to the complaint, the NLRB will prosecute the case before an administrative law judge at a trial scheduled to begin on March 7, 2022.
Nurses have been working without a labor agreement since 2020. Negotiations began in September 2020 after the parties agreed to delay the start of negotiations because of the pandemic. When negotiations began, there were 135 registered nurses in the bargaining unit. That number has dropped to approximately 115 registered nurses, many of whom are not full time.
Nurses and their representatives are scheduled to negotiate with the Hospital over a new labor contract on January 18, 2022. Nurses remain hopeful that Prime Health and the Hospital will stop seeing nurses as the enemy and instead will bargain in good faith for a contract that provides competitive wages and working conditions at a time when the local community desperately needs a strong nursing staff to treat patients during the pandemic
About ONA: Formed in 1904, the Ohio Nurses Association is a powerful network of registered nurses who are committed to advancing nursing through education, political action and workplace advocacy. ONA is the leading voice of the approximately 190,000 professional registered nurses in Ohio. To become a member of the Ohio Nurses Association, visit www.ohnurses.org.