Sen. Sherrod Brown meets with striking Mercy workers, hospital

Published: May. 10, 2019 at 6:03 PM EDT
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Nurses, tech staff and service workers didn't waste the opportunity to talk to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown on the picket line.

"It's getting out of control," said an employee at the children hospital.

One Mercy surgery nurse told the senator that they're understaffed and overworked.

"If I mess something up, it's not that easy to fix," she said. And adds that the workers are simply looking for some relief, that would in turn, keep patients safe.

"We're here all hours of the night and you're not as good as you were ten hours ago," she said. "You're tired. You're stressed. You're fatigued."

Those were just some of the stories Senator Sherrod Brown came to hear on day five of the labor dispute between Mercy Health and around 2,200 of its employees.

He spent about 15 minutes on the line and at the end had a message for both sides.

"I'm hopeful that - I don't point fingers - I'm hopeful that management can work with the union to come up with a solution," Brown said.

Many people on the picket line say his visit reinvigorated the cause, leaving some hopeful that his input would make a difference.

"It makes me feel great," Latonya McDonald-Greenlee, vice president, vice bargaining chair, UAW Local 2213, said. "I just hope that the hospital will listen and try to help us get back to the table and bet the things we need to take care of our patients."

Echoing the sentiments of her co-workers, the 46-year Mercy veteran says the on-call hours, while expected, are excessive.

"We don't mind doing it sometimes but that should be the exception and not the rule," McDonald-Greenlee said. "That's the problem, it's the rule."

In the end, she says it boils down to having the tools to give their patients the best care possible.

"We want our patients to be safe. We want to go in there healthy, strong and able to take care of them," she said.

Mercy Health also spoke to the senator on Friday and released this statement about the conversations:

"Mercy Health - St. Vincent Medical Center and Children’s Hospital appreciates its recent discussions with Sen. Sherrod Brown, who visited Cherry Street today after the walk-out by many our UAW-represented associates earlier in the week.

In our discussions with the Senator we indicated that a very good and competitive offer remains on the table

Our offer includes pay raises and competitive benefits, as well as solutions that address associates’ work-life balance with the realities of our ministry’s 24-hour, 7-day-a-week care for this community. St. Vincent is a non-profit ministry that continues to provide $65,000 per day in charitable care and other services to those in our community who need it the most. All the proceeds go back into the community."