Where: Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital at 1153 Centre St., Jamaica Plain
Who: The 385 registered nurses of BWFH, fellow nurses, supporters, friends and family
Negotiations over a new contract for Faulkner nurses began in March 2016. After negotiating for eight sessions, it has become clear to BWFH nurses that Partners/BWFH is prioritizing profits over quality patient care and fairness to their workers. BWFH nurses are fighting over several of the same issues other MNA/Partners nurses have recently confronted, including safe nurse staffing and hospital security – two of the key sticking points in the Brigham and Women's Hospital nurse negotiations last month, which led to a 95 percent strike vote by the BWH nurses.
"Our chief concern is that our patients receive quality care in a safe environment," said Dan Rec, co-chair of the MNA/BWFH Bargaining Committee. "A highly profitable hospital and health care corporation like Faulkner and Partners should easily be able to uphold the highest standards of safe patient care and value its nurses."
BWFH nurses negotiated for the eighth time on Wednesday, July 20. On the same day, BWH nurses voted overwhelmingly to ratify a tentative agreement that last month averted an historic one-day strike.
"Brigham nurses stand with their sisters and brothers at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, who are fighting a familiar battle," said Kelly Morgan, a labor and delivery nurse and vice chair of the MNA/BWH Bargaining Unit. "Every patient deserves safe and effective care, and every nurse deserves to be valued and respected."
Below are key issues for Faulkner nurses:
Hospital Security: BWFH nurses are seeking similar security improvements as have been promised and/or completed at BWH, including better access control, training, weapon signage and policies and incident response. The hospital has made progress on this issue, but has not fully addressed nurses' concerns. Faulkner nurses also want front-line nurse input prioritized when decisions about security coverage are made (i.e. when security should be pulled from a patient/incident).
Safe Patient Care: BWFH nurses have proposed that nurses-in-charge not be given patient assignments. A "charge nurse" is responsible for all patients and nurses in their area. If she/he has a patient assignment, she/he is not able to effectively supervise and assist other nurses. This nurse should be managing the flow of patients, be on hand to assist less experienced nurses with more complex cases, while also picking up patient assignments when staff become overburdened.
Salary Fairness: Partners/BWFH is offering a 1% increase over three years to all nurses and 1.5% to nurses at the top of the scale. BWFH nurses are seeking wage parity with BWH nurses. That would mean, under the Faulkner nurses' proposal, that their salary step scale be increased to align with the Brigham nurses'.
BWFH is home to several leading Brigham and Women's institutions, including the Brigham and Women's Comprehensive Spine Center, the Brigham and Women's Sleep Medicine and Endocrinology Center and the Brigham and Women's Department of Orthopedic Surgery, which the hospital has described as having "the same faculty and care standards here in Jamaica Plain as at other locations in our delivery system."
"Partners has given Faulkner the name 'Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital' and it appears to take seriously that designation in some ways," said Kathy Glennon, co-chair of the MNA/BWFH Bargaining Committee. "Management has said that it values Faulkner nurses, their hard work and their abilities as much as Brigham nurses. Partners itself is a highly profitable corporation. Faulkner is also doing well financially. Why not provide wage parity for Faulkner nurses?"
The latest data from the state's Center for Health Information and Analysis shows BWFH made $11.3 million in profit during the first six months of the current fiscal year. That is up from a $3.1 million profit during the first six months of the previous fiscal year.
Between 2010 and 2014 Partners HealthCare made more than $1.9 billion in profits. BWFH itself had a more than $9 million operating surplus during fiscal year 2014. Partners HealthCare has used its substantial profits to enrich its top executives. The five highest paid Partners executives got a nearly $1.3 million combined pay hike from 2013 to 2014, equaling a 23% increase.
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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United 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 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.
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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United