Hospital Direct Worksite Actions - The Inside Story

AFSCME Ohio Council 8 has always been on the frontlines with our state’s healthcare employees. Our members have never backed down from a challenging contract negotiation. It is through these collective actions that we are able to bring real change and improvements to the lives of our fellow members and the patients and community we serve. Below are just two of many memorable actions. 

Trumbull Memorial Hosptial - Youngstown Region 

25 years ago strike signs mingled with Christmas decorations and snowflakes on the picket line in front of Youngstown’s Trumbull Memorial Hospital. After months of organizing, and weeks of negotiating it took an 11-day strike starting on May 3rd,1985 by 450 brave nurses to win a first-time contract.                                                            

“We took the same skills that made us good nurses and used them to build a union and win justice for ourselves and our families,” said AFSCME Local 2026 President Tom Connlley, the union’s first president.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

According to Connelly, the nurse’s solidarity was as strong as the weather was cold. 

“The community was all for us. One doctor even let us use his office as strike headquarters and another baked 500 cookies for the strikers. We also had terrific support from AFSCME Local 74 Warren city workers. They provided us with burn barrels and wood so we could stay warm and hauled away the ashes every day. It is a Christmas none of us will ever forget,” Connelly shared. 

O’Bleness Hosptial - Athens Region

A different season but the same issues led AFSCME Local 1252 members at O’Bleness hospital in the Athens Region to stage a 56-day strike in March of 2000.

Strikes were nothing new in the coal country of Southeast Ohio where generations of United Mine Worker union families knew what strikes were about and their support for the O’Bleness workers was unquestioned.           

With negotiations locked in a stalemate, the union staged a rally to raise morale at the county fairgrounds located across the road from the hospital. During the rally, a summer thunderstorm popped up and a bolt of lightning struck the reviewing stand injuring a woman who was whisked over the picket line for treatment in the emergency room.         

The impasse was literally broken by a stroke of lightning. The incident brought the sides together in a more cooperative relationship based on common interests.  

While injured, the woman recovered and for many years was known in the community as the Lighting Lady.