STRIKE AUTHORIZATION VOTE Set for Thursday, August 30
GREENFIELD, Mass., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Negotiations for a new union contract between nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and Baystate management ended abruptly today, as management walked out of the talks, refusing to bargain in good faith, forcing the nurses to file a charge of unfair labor practice against the employer with the National Labor Relations Board.
The hospital's controversial action comes just two days before the nurses are slated to vote to authorize a strike at the Greenfield-based facility. If the NLRB upholds the nurses' charge, the ensuing strike, if and when it takes place, would be classified as an "unfair labor practice" strike.
At the twenty-fifth negotiation session yesterday, Baystate walked out of the talks patently refusing to continue discussions of key issues in dispute, despite the nurses' willingness to continue. "We are filing this charge because Baystate Health Systems is refusing to negotiate in good faith," said Bargaining unit co-chair Linda Judd, RN. "We have rights under the National Labor Relations Act and we will press these charges to force Baystate to negotiate a reasonable agreement. Their behavior is reprehensible and exemplifies Baystate's real agenda, which is to take away our collective bargaining rights and to destroy our union." Over the past few months the nurses have received tremendous support from the greater Greenfield community. Yard signs and store signs are seen throughout Franklin County and up and down the valley. At the recent informational picket line, supporters turned out in large numbers to join the line and a constant sound of cars honking in support was heard. The nurses have tremendous support from local and state public officials — that support included resolutions passed this summer by the Greenfield City Council and by the Democratic State Convention calling on Baystate Health System to bargain in good faith.
All the community support has had little effect on Baystate according to unit Co-Chair Donna Stern, RN. "We only wish Baystate would be as supportive of their nurses as the community has been. Our families, friends, and neighbors understand that without the rights and protections of our union contract it would be much more difficult for nurses to advocate for their patients. This is our community hospital and the health and well being of our patients is paramount to us. Advocating for the safety of our patients is our most important task and it would be impossible to do that without the protection from retribution from Baystate management that our union rights provide."
Baystate Health Systems Inc. is represented at the table by an expensive attorney from the national anti-union law firm, Jackson Lewis. "We are 209 nurses working at our community hospital. We are up against one of the largest and wealthiest corporations in the state who seems to have limitless resources to invest in their attempt to bust our union. We are very heartened by the support of our families, neighbors, friends and community. With this continued support and our solidarity, we will win this battle to guarantee quality health care at Franklin Medical Center," said Judd.
The strike authorization vote has been scheduled to take place throughout the day and into the evening on Thursday, August 30. The votes will be counted after the voting ends at 9 p.m and the results will be announced that evening. The vote does not mean the nurses would strike immediately. It gives the negotiating committee the authorization to strike if and when they feel it is necessary. Once the committee issues its official notice to strike, the hospital will then have 10 days before the nurses will go out on strike.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is also a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast.
SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association