Northside nurses begin one-day strike - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Northside nurses begin one-day strike

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - After a year of working without a contract, over 100 nurses at Northside hospital are now at the picket line for a one-day strike.

Members of the O.N.A., which represents 485 nurses at the hospital, started the protest Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., characterizing the walkout as an unfair labor practice strike.

"Nobody here wants to walk out on this hospital today but they feel compelled to do so by their practice for nursing," said union president Eric Williams. "This is an important issue to the nurses and they don't take it lightly."

One of the primary issues surrounding disagreements between the union and management is nurse rationing, a proposed option by the hospital where nurses would be sent home if there are fewer patients than expected. The nurses could be called back in if new patients were admitted.

However, union leaders say that the system is problematic and have offered alternative solutions, such as cross training, where nurses would perform other duties during downtime instead of going home.

Union leaders also say that contract terms presented to them by management and the Community Health Systems have the potential to undermine the ability for nurses to speak out about safety and patient care.

"Anytime you have healthcare professionals that are working in an uncertain circumstance, you are really jeopardizing the patient," said Ohio Senator Capri Cafaro, who has been advocating for the O.N.A. "We have to remember that healthcare, while it is a business, the number one priority is the health and well being of those that comes through that door."

Management at Northside Hospital has repeatedly said that other unions at the hospital have already agreed to similar contractual terms presented to O.N.A.

A statement released by the by the hospital also refutes claims that the nurses would not have the ability to speak out about safety and patient care.

"There is nothing in the hospital's proposals that would change the right and responsibility of our nurses to provide input, raise concerns and actively participate in efforts to advance quality or to speak up about any matter that impacts quality care for patients," the statement said. "In fact, nurses participate - and would continue to participate - in daily safety meetings that take place in each department. Nurses also participate in hospital committees focused on quality, staffing and safety."

The hospital also says that the current strike is in violation of the National Labor Relations Act by serving three separate, conflicting and confusing notifications to the hospital. Williams 

Officials say the facility will remain open during the one-day strike. Hospital officials say all emergency services, inpatient and outpatient care will be available.

Stay connected to wfmj.com and 21 News for more on this developing story.

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