Published: Saturday, July 29, 2006
Employees question psych-care deal
Unions say they will fight outsourcing of jobs.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
YOUNGSTOWN Forum Health psychiatric program employees say they don't know if they will still be working for the hospital system when the management and operation of the behavioral medicine department is farmed out Oct. 1.
Dr. Keith Ghezzi, Forum's interim president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday that the contract with Diamond Healthcare "ensures that all psychiatric programs now offered by Forum will remain in the community."
However, Dr. Ghezzi did not address what would happen to the Forum employees who now provide those services at Northside Medical Center and Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren.
And, according to union leaders, meetings conducted by Forum management with affected employees on Wednesday did not clear up the issue.
Tom Connelly, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2026, and Ray Braham, president of AFSCME Local 2804, both at Trumbull Memorial Hospital, have sent letters to Forum demanding that the employee issue be negotiated.
Local 2026 represents registered nurses at TMH, and Local 2804, the hospital's service employees.
Unhappy with deal
"I was told by the vice president of human resources that [the employees in the behavioral medicine programs] would have a different employer" on Oct. 1, Connelly said.
"How can they say that without negotiations? We have succession and no-erosion clauses in our contract. We intend to use all legal means to resist outsourcing of our services. If any nursing of psychiatric patients is going to occur at TMH, my members will be doing it," Connelly said.
"We don't appreciate that we have worked with the hospital and they turn around and kick us in the teeth," said Braham, whose union represents about 600 service workers at TMH.
"Forum ought to think about partnering with us and the community instead of some outside firm like Wellspring," Braham said.
Wellspring Partners is the consulting firm hired by Forum to lead its effort to achieve a financial turnaround.
Both union leaders said Forum's action has damaged the working relationship the union believed had been established.
Eric Williams, president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, which represents nurses at Northside Medical Center, said his members were told that when Diamond takes over, they could apply to work for Diamond or use their seniority to bump in other areas of Forum.
The employee meetings raised concerns about what is in Forum's agreement with Diamond, he said.
"We have very strong concerns about how this was done," Williams said.
Forum's Center for Behavioral Medicine provides mental health and chemical dependency services for children, adolescents, adults and families.