AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Nurses with Northside Hospital in Youngstown say their fight against forced overtime may need to go to Columbus.
A couple dozen members of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association met for a rally Tuesday morning at the Saxon Club in Austintown. They claim nurses at Northside have logged nearly 1,500 hours in mandatory overtime since the beginning of the year.
Union leaders say despite language in the current contract requiring the hospital to pay triple time for overtime, the practice continues. They now want the Ohio General Assembly to address the problem.
“Mandatory overtime across the state of Ohio is a question mark for the state. We are going to be appealing to our state legislators to engage the Ohio Nurses Association and to collectively come up with some process that does something about mandatory overtime,” Eric Williams of the YGDNA said.
Leaders with the union are now waiting for an arbitrator’s ruling on the overtime issue, but don’t think that would be made until late next month. Nurses have been working under an extension of their old contract since February.
In a press release from the YGDNA, they claim staffing problems at Northside are leading to nurse retention issues.
“Many nurses have left CHS-Northside citing a bad work environment, leaving open positions that CHS-Northside is unwilling to fill, adding to the deteriorating work environment. Instead of addressing and working on these issues, CHS-Northside would rather put patients at risk by increasing nurse to patient ratios and forcing nurses to work overtime – a potentially dangerous practice that contributes heavily to nurse fatigue and nursing practice errors, jeopardizing patient care. Mandatory overtime is banned within the CHS-Northside and YGDNA collective bargaining agreement,” the release states.
In June, 52 nurses were involved in a set of mass grievances filed against CHS-Northside because they were being forced by the facility to work mandatory overtime despite the CHS-Northside/YGDNA contract. The arbitration hearing concluded June 3 and a decision has not been reached.
Trish Hrina, vice president of marketing and public relation at ValleyCare Health System of Ohio, sent the following response to Tuesday’s rally:
Providing safe, quality patient care is our highest priority at Northside Medical Center. We staff our hospital to meet the volume and medical needs of our patients and in accordance with Ohio’s Safe Staffing Law and we value all of our employees for their role in helping to deliver that care. We provide good working conditions as well as fair compensation and benefits. We do not use mandatory overtime except in extraordinary situations. When mandatory overtime is worked, nurses receive three times their base rate of pay for such time in accordance with our contract with the Ohio Nurses Association.
Negotiations between the ONA and Northside Medical Center are ongoing toward a mutually acceptable agreement.