Sen. Sherrod Brown Visits Ohio Affinity RNs
Applauds Their ‘Courage’ on Eve of First Contract Talks with CHS
In an important visit with registered nurses Affinity Medical Center of Massillon, Oh on the eve of their first court-mandated contract bargaining talks with hospital management, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown praised the nurses for their “courage” in fighting for improved protections for patients and their own rights and standards.
Sen. Sherrod Brown listens to presentations by Affinity RNs
Noting the heavy presence of management staff surrounding the RNs, Brown also praised the nurses for their determination in standing up to the tactics of intimidation.
Amy Pulley, an Affinity RN, told a Canton reporter that Brown understands the importance of safe, quality care for patients and supports the efforts of the union.
Affinity RNs, represented by National Nurses Organizing Committee-Ohio, an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses, have sought to strengthen patient safety measures in the hospital, especially short staffing, as well as to achieve improvements in their own workplace and economic standards.
The nurses voted to join NNOC-Ohio/NNU in August, 2012. Hospital officials, however, have until now refused to meet with the nurses and responded with harassment and retaliation against RNs who have raised safety concerns and advocated for their democratic and free speech rights.
In January, a U.S. District Court in Ohio ordered Affinity to cease and desist the intimidation and retaliation, reinstate a longtime RN, Ann Wayt fired for patient advocacy, and begin contract talks with the RNs after months of the hospital’s stalling and refusal to recognize RN rights.
Wayt returned to work late last week, greeted by scores of her welcoming RN colleagues. NNU today released a video documenting the return and the Affinity RNs fight for their patients and their rights.
Brown also welcomed back Wayt and praised the Affinity RNs in a video statement last week, noting, “While we celebrate Ann’s return, this is also a time to celebrate your (efforts in seeking a) new collective bargaining contract. Collective bargaining and health care isn’t just about a paycheck. It’s about staffing levels; it’s about safety, it’s about ... insuring health care quality.”
On Friday, the two sides will finally sit down for their first bargaining session.
Sen. Brown with Affinity RNs
Affinity is part of the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, now the nation’s largest hospital chain. The Ohio court injunction was the third in just the past six months sanctioning the chain for rampant violations of federal labor law.
In the order, U.S. District Court Judge John Adams of the Northern Ohio District also ordered the hospital to cease threats of physical harm to RNs who submit forms to management objecting to unsafe patient assignments and urging improvements for patient safety, stop all discipline and threats against union supporters, including threats to ask the Ohio Board of Nursing to rescind their nursing license, and to end its illegal refusal to recognize and bargain with NNOC-Ohio.