Federal labor charges issued against East Liverpool City Hospital for violations of union rights
EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a formal complaint against Prime Health-East Liverpool City Hospital, alleging that the hospital broke federal labor laws in negotiations with the Ohio Nurses Association, the union representing the registered nurses. After negotiations broke down in the fall of 2020, ONA filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against the Hospital. The NLRB found that the Hospital engaged in bad faith bargaining, refused to provide the union with information about hospital working conditions, unlawfully declared a premature impasse, and implemented unlawful changes to conditions of employment for registered nurses without negotiating with the union.
“Our nurses have repeatedly tried to reach a fair contract with the Hospital, only to be obstructed by the hospital’s unlawful behavior. We are not surprised that the NLRB found merit to our charges, but the labor dispute is not over. With a raging pandemic placing extreme pressure on nurses, we call upon management to resolve the serious unfair labor practices referred to in the complaint by reaching an agreement with the Ohio Nurses Association that demonstrates respect for registered nurses and the patients they serve,” stated Bob Cousins, Deputy Executive Officer of Labor Relations with ONA.
The government’s complaint against East Liverpool City Hospital requires the Hospital to take remedial action to restore the rights of nurses. If the hospital refuses to comply, the NLRB will prosecute the case before an administrative law judge at a trial scheduled to begin on March 7, 2022. The terms include paying nurses retroactively to June 1, 2020 the wage increases the hospital reneged on. The NLRB is also requiring the hospital’s representative to read aloud in person to all nurses that the Hospital agrees to refrain from violating nurses’ rights, and the actions it will take to remedy past violations of federal labor laws.
“Morale was already low when negotiations began in September 2020 because of the strains of the pandemic and short staffing caused by uncompetitive wages, and the constant battle in the last year with this Hospital has only continued its decline. Registered nurse staffing has gotten progressively worse and we’re worried it could lead to unsafe conditions for our patients. Hopefully, this complaint will cause hospital management to change course in the best interests of everyone who depends on the hospital. We need a fair agreement so everyone can move on and start building a better East Liverpool City Hospital for our patients and our community,” stated Bobbie Kerns, ICU nurse and president of the local unit at the hospital.
The hospital has until December 31, 2021 to comply or answer the terms outlined in the complaint.
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, the bargaining unit was comprised of 135 registered nurses. Now that number has dropped to approximately 115 registered nurses, many of whom are not full time.
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