The National Labor Relations Board has filed a formal complaint alleging Prime Health-East Liverpool City Hospital broke federal labor laws during negotiations with the Ohio Nurses Association.

Talks between the two broke down after their contract expired in November of 2020. The hospital has until December 31 to respond to the charges.

The Ohio Nurses union claims the hospital did not bargain in good faith and refused to provide information.

"Staffing levels are dire and the hospital's actions, treatment of the nurses during this contract dispute has just made things worse," Anne Mueller said.

The hospital tells 21 News it disagrees with the union's claims.

"We disagree with the claims made by the union. It is, and has always been, our goal to arrive at a fair and equitable agreement that enables the hospital to continue providing quality care and excellent service, and a superior, supportive workplace for staff," Elizabeth Nikels said, vice president of marketing and communications for Prime Healthcare.

Mueller says wages are among the sticking points. She says some nurses have left and hospital since the talks unraveled. The bargaining unit went from 135 registered nurses down to 115. Mueller says some of the current nurses are also not full-time.

"This labor dispute has completely demoralized the nursing staff, many nurses have spent their entire nursing career at East Liverpool and to see this hospital to treat them with such disrespect and devaluing their contribution is so disheartening," she said.

The Ohio Nurses Association works with nurses in five other area hospitals.

When the hospital was notified the nurses would go on strike last fall, Mueller says the hospital prematurely announced the two were at an impasse.

She's hopeful the NLRB's formal complaint signals the hospital to come to the bargaining table to reach a fair contract. Right now they're working with a federal mediator.

The union and hospital's next scheduled meeting to back to the bargaining table was Jan. 18. Mueller is hopeful that meeting goes forward as planned.