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February 20, 2011
Salem News

Hospital union rep:?'Blindsided' by layoffs

WARREN - A union official who represents workers at Trumbull Memorial Hospital said she was blindsided by the hospital system's layoff announcement, and still hasn't been told if any of her members will be affected.

"I've put in numerous phone calls to Trumbull, and there have been no return calls," said Debbie Bindas, staff representative of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8, which represents registered nurses, housekeepers, maintenance and other workers at the Warren hospital.

Bindas said the unions weren't notified of the 81 layoffs announced late Tuesday afternoon by the three-hospital system, which was acquired out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy Oct. 1 by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc.

"My understanding is they issued the news release before telling anyone at the hospital. I was totally caught off guard," she said.

The hospital system, based at Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, said it will trim 81 positions - 51 at Northside, 17 at Trumbull Memorial, one at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Howland and 12 in central operations.

The system said very few of the positions are clinical. Many come from corporate departments under the old Forum Health structure, such as legal, internal audit, management, and administrative positions. Others come from consolidation of redundant positions to create better efficiencies, and finally, from hospital support departments, management said.

Bindas said some contractual issues - senior workers who might be willing to take voluntary layoff or work fewer hours - might affect the layoffs, but she said she hasn't been contacted to discuss the issues.

"I'd hoped we've had a good enough relationship that we'd be contacted as we always were in the past," she said. "All I know is it's very sad. We've had such a depressed economy to begin with."- Special to the Salem News

Federal official visits trade program

WARREN - The construction trade skills that 20 adults are learning in a pre-apprenticeship work training program are helping lay a solid foundation for their future, says a federal official whose agency is funding the program.

Martha Johnson, administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, talked shop Friday with participants in the Warren Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee's (JATC) pre-apprenticeship program at their work site: a Habitat for Humanity house on Palmyra Road S.W.

The GSA-funded program, one of only three in the United States, provides on-the-job and classroom training to prepare workers to enter the construction industry or apprenticeship programs.

''It's not just meant to help get a job, but really meant to help you get a career,'' Johnson said.

The $304,000 contract JATC won from GSA provides for classroom and job site training, building and learning materials, equipment and tools - the students keep the tools when they leave the program - and a $70 weekly stipend for participants.

Industrial training coordinator at the Trumbull Career and Technical Center's adult training center, George Carney, said the participants receive 720 hours of classroom and site instruction. Students in all the industrial trades are working together.

The 1,235-square-foot, three bedroom, one bath house includes a high efficiency hot water tank, furnace, windows and has 19 inches of attic insulation. ''One thing to remember is these students did everything, but always under the watchful eye of the instructor,'' Carney said.

Carney said JATC approached TCTC after receiving the funding and then Habitat for Humanity was brought on board. In addition, Warren's Community Development Department provided $75,000 in federal grant dollars it received for the project for hard construction costs.

- Special to the Salem News



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