BOSTON, July 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 385 Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), will hold an informational picket outside the hospital on Friday, July 22 to call attention to the hospital and Partners HealthCare's failure to value patients and nurses over its corporate profits.
When: 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22
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 seven 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 a health insurance takeaway 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. It is also irresponsible that the most profitable health care employer in Massachusetts is trying to reduce health benefits and force new nurses into a non-union insurance program."
BWFH nurses are scheduled to negotiate for the eighth time on Wednesday, July 20. On the same day, BWH nurses will be voting to ratify a tentative agreement that last month averted a 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. 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.
Equal Benefits: Partners/BWFH is seeking to force all newly hired nurses into a lesser health benefit program. The hospital's proposal for "flex insurance" is a hospital-controlled health insurance program not subject to bargaining. BWH nurses successfully thwarted a similar Partners proposal during their recently completed contract negotiations. BWFH is also seeking to reduce the contribution the hospital makes toward the MNA health insurance, from 100% or 90% (depending on when nurses were hired) to 85%.
Salary Fairness: Partners/BWFH is offering a 1% increase over two-and-a-half years only for nurses at the top of the salary scale. The hospital is also offering a 1% bonus to those nurses at the top of the scale, and not offering any across-the-board- increase. BWFH nurses are seeking wage parity with BWH nurses. That would mean, under the Faulkner nurses' proposal, that their salary step scale would be increased to align with the nurses at Brigham.
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?"
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.
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.