FORUM HEALTH Union wants one contract for all

Contracts for about 1,500 Forum workers expire March 31.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Union workers at Forum Health are asking to be recognized as one unit in labor contract negotiations.
Members of District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union were to have a press conference today at Northside Medical Center with state legislators and area religious leaders.
Kathy Carr, a union spokeswoman, said the workers want to demonstrate to Forum officials that they are committed to bringing all of the nearly 1,500 members under one contract.
With separate contracts, some workers sometimes are treated better than others, she said. There are differences not only in pay and benefits but also in working conditions, she said. Workers think combining the units into one contract also would improve the safety and care of patients, she said.
John Gonda, a spokesman for Forum, said he couldn't comment on specifics because the company doesn't want to negotiate in public.
"We are both committed and dedicated to reaching an agreement," he said.
Under seven contracts
Forum now has seven contracts with the union, Carr said. Members include service and maintenance workers, licensed practical nurses, housekeeping and laundry workers, pharmacists, physical therapists and technicians.
Carr said the union and Forum agreed last August to general guidelines, which included placing all of the workers in one bargaining unit. In October, when negotiations began, Forum said it intended to bargain with separate units, she said.
The contracts expire March 31.
The two sides are scheduled to bargain Thursday.
Registered nurses at Forum facilities are represented by different unions.