Lorain nurses issue strike notice

Lorain nurses issue strike notice

LORAIN, OH (WOIO) - The over 500 registered nurses represented by SEIU District 1199 issued a 10-day strike notice to Mercy Regional Medical Center after hospital executives from Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners have failed to bargain in good faith. Nurses are concerned that out-of-town hospital executives are making decisions that are out-of-touch with the needs of the community.

"Executives look at this hospital and its patients as a balance sheet and numbers, as demonstrated by their misplaced priorities at the bargaining table," said Al Bacon, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International District 1199 and chief negotiator for the registered nurses. "The nurses are worried that decisions being made behind closed doors in secret corporate meetings will put the quality care this community relies on at great risk. Rather than dealing with the real problems at Mercy Regional Medical Center, executives are focusing on financial gain which may force nurses to strike if an agreement cannot be reached."

The registered nurses of Mercy Regional Medical Center remain ready to sit down and work toward an agreement with hospital executives that allows them to continue to provide quality care and renewed rights, dignity and respect on the job.

The 10-day strike notice was hand-delivered by a group of nurses at Mercy Regional Medical Center on Monday. If an agreement cannot be reached, nurses plan to begin their strike on Friday, October 19 beginning at 12 p.m.

Mercy Regional Medical Center released the following statement:

Mercy Regional Medical Center has received written notice from Service Employees International Union 1199 (SEIU) informing us of a one-day strike and picketing by bargaining unit employees scheduled to commence at noon on October 19. The union continues to demand wage increases, health benefits and retirement plans that are better than market and more rich than what the rest of the employees at Mercy Regional Medical Center have.

Our community can have confidence that Mercy will make sure the highest quality staff are in place to provide the proper care for our patients. We have a contingency plan and will continue to operate as normal should SEIU choose to follow through with a strike. We have an arrangement with a nationally recognized company that provides the highest quality replacement nurses during this transition period. In addition, the hospital is working closely with its medical staff. Mercy is committed to maintaining the highest level of care our patients expect from us, regardless of the disruptive actions by SEIU.

While SEIU's notice promises a one-day strike, nurses who choose to participate in the one-day strike, and are replaced by an agency nurse, will not be able to return to work for a five-day period. Because of our obligation to care for our patients and staff the hospital appropriately, Mercy has engaged in a contract with a staffing agency, which requires a five-day commitment.

We believe the union's action is completely unnecessary and that an acceptable contract can be made without a strike. A strike by SEIU does nothing to advance our discussions, or help our patients, or help our community.

Mercy still remains fully committed to negotiating in good faith and reaching an agreement that is fair for both sides, providing our nurses with a package that recognizes their outstanding patient care, while making sure we are financially responsible. Instead of working with us toward resolution, the union is attempting to create unnecessary anxiety for patients and their family members.

Our intention in every negotiation session has been to make meaningful progress on the outstanding issues. We had hoped the union would use the time during previous negotiations to share its thoughts on how we can make changes in a way that is best for the majority of nurses. Unfortunately, the union chose not to engage in those discussions.