Northside nurses win battle over mandatory overtime

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Nurses at Northside Medical Center celebrated what they say is a huge victory regarding their fight on limits on mandatory overtime.

On Friday, an arbitrator ruled in their favor after months negotiations between the General Duty Nurses Association and the hospital.

Since the beginning of the year, nurses claim that more than 1,500 hours of overtime were logged. Now, that will change.

Effective January 1, 2016, the hospital can implement no more than 33 hours of mandatory overtime — for the entire union — in extreme situations. And, the arbitrator will enforce this binding-agreement for two years.

“Nurses will still be entitled to overtime of their choosing. They just will not be compelled or forced to work overtime,” said Eric Williams, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association.

Williams said the decision will benefit the safety of both nurses and patients.

“I’m thrilled. The money’s not worth it. Our license is on the line, as well as the patients’ care,” said Northside Medical Center Nurse Joann Repasky.

Nurse Lori Hornberger said now staffing can be better planned ahead of time.

“There’s a certain number of people you need for each shift, so they could take those numbers and they know how many nurses they need to fill each floor,” she said.

While the ruling does not require the hospital to hire, the union hopes it will boost its current membership from 280 to more than 300. Its goal is to bring in and retain new nurses.

“So hopefully, now they’ll know they’re not going to be mandated, and they’re going to stay and they’re going to have happy lives,” Nurse Jeannie Mulichak said.

Trish Hrina, spokeswoman for ValleyCare Health System of Ohio, said the hospital is disappointed by the decision.

“We received the arbitrator’s decision late this afternoon and our initial assessment of the decision is disappointing,” she said. “We are committed to providing a safe hospital environment for our patients and employees.”

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