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Coshocton County Memorial Hospital RNs to Strike Despite Hospital's Claim of Financial Hardship
Date:12/7/2007

COSHOCTON, Ohio, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As of December 7, 2007, Coshocton County Memorial Hospital has maintained its proposals for concessions from its registered nurses for a 3-year contract. As a result, bargaining unit RNs at Coshocton County Memorial Hospital will be on strike and maintain a picket line starting at 7:00 a.m. on December 9, 2007.

RNs are professionals with highly developed skills and extensive education. Each and every day they not only prevent illness and injury and alleviate the suffering of their patients; they also save lives. According to the Inhouse Assist 2006 Nurses Salary Survey, the national average salary for an RN is $30.76/hr. RNs in Columbus, Ohio, which ranks fifth in the nation for RN salaries, average $33.48/hr. Under their current contract, registered nurses at CCMH start at $21.32/hr and top out at $28.32/hr only after 15 years of service. To remain competitive, hospitals must provide salaries and benefits commensurate with the rest of the health care industry. CCMH ONA remains committed to retaining and attracting qualified and dedicated RN staff to Coshocton. In order to do this the Hospital must maintain fair wages, benefits and work environment.

An analysis of the Hospital's financial situation was conducted by an independent CPA and concluded that while the Hospital does have cash flow problems, its revenues and assets have in fact increased each year for the past three years. CCMH ONA therefore concludes that any cash flow problems could be a result of acquisition of long-term assets rather than losses in other areas of operation, and are thereby temporary in nature.

In order to provide time for the Hospital to recover from any cash flow problems, CCMH ONA has proposed current contract language for overtime and pension (in which nurses receive a 7% employer contribution for the first $13,200 of the nurse's pay and 9.2% employer contribution for the nurse's pay over and above $13,200); successorship language in order to protect the terms of the Union contract in the event of the sale or merger of the Hospital; and a six month freeze on wages for an eighteen month contract. CCMH ONA remains available and willing to work with the Hospital to provide temporary cost savings for a temporary cash flow problem. However, the Hospital has refused any attempts to do so.

The parties have met 6 times since October yet remain at odds on the following concessions offered by the Hospital:

-- A 3-year contract with 0% pay raise for the RN staff for all 3 years. CCMH ONA has offered a six month freeze on wages for an eighteen month contract.

-- Cut the pension plan by 2% for current RN staff and reduce the pension by 4% for new hire RNs. CCMH ONA wants to maintain the current pension in which nurses receive a 7% employer contribution for the first $13,200 of the nurse's pay and 9.2% employer contribution for the nurse's pay over and above $13,200.

-- Eliminate overtime from its current over 8, 10 or 12 hours in a work day or 80 hours in a pay period and cut it to 40 hours in a work week only. CCMH ONA is committed to maintaining the current structure because without it, RNs could be forced to work 12, 14 and 16 hours shifts more often with no financial impact on the Hospital, which can result in an increase in errors and a decrease in the quality of care provided to patients.

CCMH ONA RN Strike Timeline

-- October 8, 2007 - Negotiations for a 3-year contract begin with CCMH ONA and the Hospital.

-- November 26 and 27, 2007 - The CCMH bargaining unit of 103 RNs voted by a margin of 96 to 1 to both authorize a 10-day strike notice and to strike if concessions offered by the Hospital for a 3-year contract remained on the bargaining table. CCMH ONA offered the Hospital a 2-week extension in lieu of authorizing the 10-day strike notice; however, the Hospital refused the offer.

-- December 9, 2007 - The strike will begin at 7:00 a.m.

About the Ohio Nurses Association

The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) was established in 1904 to secure a Nurse Practice Act to protect Ohio's citizens and has become the premier professional organization for Ohio's RNs. ONA's Economic and General Welfare (E&GW) Program was established in 1956. When the National Labor Relations Act was amended in 1974 to allow nurses to unionize, the E&GW Program was charged with providing representation for nurses in collective bargaining. For more information about the strike or ONA, please visit http://www.ohnurses.org.


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SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association
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