Nurses at Northside Medical Center will conduct informational picketing in front of the hospital on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., including some who will wear gags to demonstrate their concerns that management proposals in current contract talks could limit their ability to speak out for patient safety and quality care.
Eric Williams, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, said his members remain concerned that terms proposed by Northside management and Community Health Systems, the hospital's corporate owner, have the potential to undermine the facility's award-winning patient care and clinical operations.
"Currently, Northside nurses have the contractual right to bring up any patient safety or care concerns," Williams said. "But the Nashville-based, for-profit CHS is pushing for a change that would limit or take away our right to raise those issues in the future. That amounts to a gag-order on nurses, and that is unacceptable."
The Ohio Nurses Association, the statewide union that is the official bargaining agent for the Northside unit, said all members scheduled to work on Saturday will be on duty and no services will be interrupted.
"But off-duty Northside nurses will be on the picket line Saturday to speak out for patient safety, and to express their opposition to CHS proposals that could lead to the rationing of nursing care at the hospital," said Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer of the ONA, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. "Our message is simple: Don't silence nurses and maintain safe staffing practices that have produced the high-quality care the Youngstown community deserves and has come to expect."
The informational picketing will take place in front of the hospital, 500 Gypsy Lane, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Last month YGDNA members overwhelmingly rejected the most recent offer from CHS executives and Northside management. The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Wednesday.