GREENFIELD, Mass., March 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 200 registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted on Monday 93 percent to authorize a one-day strike.
"Nurses voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a one-day strike because they want to provide the best possible patient care in a safe environment," said Donna Stern, a psychiatric RN and chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee. "Unfortunately, Baystate is taking a different path. By refusing to negotiate in good faith and refusing to consider nurse proposals to improve patient care and security, Baystate is failing our community."
"Even on the day of the strike vote, there were only two RNs in the Emergency Room in the morning when there needed to be four to five," Stern said. "There were only two nurses in the Mental Health Unit for 19 patients – so each nurse was responsible for caring for 9 or 10 patients at the same instant. Our manager, who also manages the Emergency Room, left the critical staffing situation there to help take care of the patients on the MHU until another nurse could be found. The nurse who agreed to come in proceeded to work a 13-hour shift. That's all wildly inappropriate, and yet that was the best Baystate management was willing to do on the day of our strike vote. You can imagine how bad things get on days when we weren't voting to strike!"
The BFMC RN Bargaining Committee will discuss if and when to set a date for a one-day strike. Baystate Health continues to bargain in bad faith. If scheduled, that date will be announced to the public once the hospital has been given a 10-day notice required by law. BFMC nurses will then plan for a 24-hour strike, unless the hospital agrees to a fair contract settlement by that date. If a one-day strike happens, nurses will be prepared to return to work after the 24-hour period.
"At this point only Baystate can avoid a strike, by bargaining in good faith to reach a fair agreement which respects all hospital employees and our patients," said Jillian Sicard, RN and junior co-chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee. "By withholding our labor for one day, nurses will force Baystate to listen to our concerns and treat our community with respect."
On March 3, BFMC nurses filed six unfair labor practice charges against Baystate with the National Labor Relations Board. The charges assert that Baystate has engaged in a pattern of unfair and illegal bargaining. Baystate has repeatedly failed to provide information requested by nurses, shown a pattern of delays and refused to negotiate over mandatory bargaining subjects such as nurse workload, health insurance, and health and safety language.
Negotiations between BFMC/MNA nurses and Baystate Health began in November 2016 over a new contract to replace the agreement that was scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2016. There have been 13 sessions held to date. A mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service joined the bargaining process on February 21. The next session is scheduled for March 16.
Key outstanding issues include safe patient limits for nurses targeted to BFMC patient needs, security improvements and making sure Baystate does not erode nurses' health insurance benefits and working conditions.
Read more details about the negotiations and Baystate's financial ability to provide a safe patient care environment at www.massnurses.org/BFMCcharges.
Receive documentation supporting nurses' staffing concerns from Joe Markman at 781-571-8175 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Documentation includes state Department of Public Health reports that show BFMC is breaking the law against mandatory overtime and dozens of text messages from BFMC management requesting nurses come to work when they were scheduled to be off because of staffing shortages.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is 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.
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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association