Nurses Dispute Impasse Claims by East Liverpool Hospital

The following statement is attributable to Bob Cousins, Deputy Executive Officer of Labor Relations with the Ohio Nurses Association:

“East Liverpool City Hospital announced on Facebook yesterday that it refuses to negotiate with its registered nurses and their union.   The hospital is instead imposing a portion of what it deems their last, best, and final offer. The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA), which represents the 130 registered nurses at the hospital, has repeatedly told hospital management the nurses want to negotiate a resolution to the dispute and bargaining is not an impasse because ONA remains open-minded and flexible in its positions.

The registered nurses we represent are extremely disappointed their employer chose this route of indirect communication and cutting off all negotiations. The hospital is owned and operated by California-based Prime Healthcare.  These out of state actors have left the nurses without a contract in the middle of a worsening pandemic.  Their actions are undermining the hospital itself.

The nurses have repeatedly communicated their willingness to work with the hospital toward a fair contract. The hospital’s recent Facebook announcement is contrary to public statements by CEO Keith Richardson, who said, “We hope that we can sit down with them soon so we can finish negotiations.”  Richardson also stated that he wanted “reach an agreement with the nurses.”  When he made those comments, Prime Healthcare negotiators announced they were refusing to negotiate.  Nurses are dismissing his comments as mere lip service as Prime Healthcare continues to undermine nurses’ work lives and local management’s credibility.

Prime Healthcare’s contract offer would in fact decrease the starting salary of experienced nurses by over 8% in some circumstances. This clearly will not help the nurse retention crisis we are facing. Our research shows that East Liverpool City Hospital ranks 103 out of 121 hospitals in Ohio rates of pay.

ONA has filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against the hospital and Prime Healthcare in response to bad faith bargaining and other tactics. Those charges are being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.

It’s clear the hospital would rather lean into Prime Healthcare’s history of anti-labor behavior and fight with the nurses instead of listening to them. We are disappointed that Prime has decided to use this pandemic as a way to exploit nurses. This is not how you treat East Liverpool’s community heroes.

The nurses will vote on the employer’s offer, with a date and time to be determined. Our willingness to negotiate a contract that addresses the needs of the nurses, patients, and community still stands.”