GREENFIELD, Mass., Feb. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, will hold a one-day strike on Wednesday, Feb. 28 unless hospital executives agree to a fair contract that protects and improves patient care and provides nurses decent health insurance.
On Friday, Feb. 16 BFMC nurses gave the hospital a 10-day notice for the strike, providing more than the notice time required under federal law. The strike is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on February 28 and last 24 hours. On February 8, BFMC nurses voted by 85% to authorize a potential one-day strike. Nurses are seeking prompt bargaining dates. So far hospital executives have refused to give prompt dates and have rebuffed the offer of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-MA, to host negotiations.
"Baystate Franklin nurses are standing up for our patients and our community," said Donna Stern, RN and Senior Co-Chair of the BFMC MNA Bargaining Committee. "We have a sense of urgency about improving patient care and resolving these negotiations. Baystate refuses to agree to prompt bargaining dates and will not engage on our core issues. We do not understand why Baystate would refuse Congressman McGovern's offer to host negotiations. Our community deserves better."
Baystate refuses to improve patient care conditions
Baystate wants the right to make nurse staffing worse
Baystate wants to force its nurses to take terrible health insurance from Baystate's own insurance company, Health New England
Why Inadequate RN Staffing is a Patient Care Problem:
By failing to schedule enough nurses or forcing nurses to work through our meal breaks and routinely past the end of our shifts, Baystate is making it more and more difficult for exhausted, overworked nurses to provide the best care for our patients.
Nurses worked, were pressured or forced to work 3,980 shifts of 12 hours or more in one year. National best practices say nurses SHOULD NOT work more than 12 hours.
Safe Patient Care Solutions
Nurses are seeking specific staffing improvements in specific hospital units, along with the proposal that charge nurses not be required to take a patient assignment. This is tied to a proposal that management hire the nurses it needs to staff its staffing grids and not worsen staffing by assigning even more patients to all other nurses.
Charge nurses need to be able to effectively coordinate care and assist other nurses. If their patient assignments are eliminated or reduced but their fellow nurses have even heavier patient assignments, the problems nurses have identified for years will worsen.
Decent Health Insurance
Mid-contract, BFMC management took away the only two decent health plans offered to nurses: Gold and Silver. Nurses are just asking them to bring back a decent health plan.
Baystate Health owns Health New England and Baystate President & CEO Dr. Mark Keroack is also CEO of the health plan.
In addition, Baystate agreed to provide Noble Hospital nurses the Silver plan when they settled in November 2017.
Baystate is advertising that the people of the Pioneer Valley and Springfield areas should come to them for care, while being unable to provide a healthcare to their own employees.
Baystate Health has the financial means to provide safe staffing and fair RN benefits and wages. It ended 2014 and 2015 with a combined $121 million in profit, according to the state. During fiscal year 2016, BFMC alone reported $2.2 million in profits.
BFMC nurses held a one-day strike on June 26, 2017 after voting by a 93% margin to authorize the strike. The nurses were preemptively locked out of the hospital by Baystate management, who kept the RNs from caring for their patients the evening before the strike. The lockout lasted for two days following the strike and involved Baystate spending $1 million to hire replacement nurses from outside the community instead of allowing BFMC nurses to care for their patients once the strike concluded.
Following the strike, Baystate gave its "best and final" to BFMC nurses on July 21. BFMC nurses voted to reject that offer on August 15. The MNA has filed more than 20 unfair labor practice charges against Baystate on behalf of BFMC nurses for, among other reasons, failing to bargain in good faith over mandatory subjects of bargaining such as nurse workload and health insurance.
BFMC nurses began negotiating for a new contract in November 2016 to replace the contract that expired Dec. 31, 2016. A federal mediator is involved in negotiations.
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.