LAWRENCE, Mass., May 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The nurses of Lawrence General Hospital voted this week to ratify a new three-year contract that nurses believe will allow the hospital to recruit and retain the staff needed to ensure optimum patient care.
The pact, which covers the nearly 500 RNs at LGH from Oct. 2, 2018 – Oct. 2, 2021, includes a number of improvements to nurse staffing levels including increased staffing in the hospital's emergency department, creation of a 24/7 rapid response nurse position to support nurses on inpatient units, and a charge nurse with a limited assignment on the night shift. Nurses won a four percent across the board pay raise for all nurses (1 percent retroactive to Oct 2, 2018, 1 percent on Oct. 2, 2019, .5 percent on April 2, 2020 and 1.5 percent on Oct. 2, 2020), as well as a new 3.5 step for those at the top of the scale and a $10 per hour night shift differential, the highest in the state. The agreement also includes improvement to nurses' retirement benefit, provisions for self-scheduling and protection the nurses sought for their paid time off benefit.
"After several arduous months of negotiations, we are excited to have a contract for the next three years that benefits nurses in all phases of their careers," said Travis Libman, an emergency department nurse and chair of the nurses' local bargaining unit for the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "From new grads to veterans, this is a contract that will enhance the working conditions for nurses and improve care for patients at Lawrence General Hospital. Throughout the long months, we had the support of our nurses the entire way. Our success is measured by the strength of our union."
The settlement followed a successful picket by nurses on April 11, a march on the boss by more than 70 nurses who delivered a petition for safe care signed by more than 80 percent of the nurses and had strong support the nurses garnered from local public officials, including the state legislative delegation, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, as well as the Lawrence City Council, headed by Council President Kendrys Vasquez.
"The settlement and ratification of this this contract is a major step forward in our effort to attract and retain the nursing staff needed to promote patient care and safety," said Laurie Spheekas, RN, a nurse on the hospital's telemetry unit and vice chair of the nurses local bargaining unit. "In approving this agreement, nurses sent a clear message that they have the right to safe patient care conditions and an improved work-life balance. In the coming months, we look forward to a good faith collaboration with management to implement this contract for the benefit of our patients and our community."
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.
SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association