GREENFIELD, Mass., Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Registered Nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association at Baystate Franklin Medical Center have voted overwhelmingly tonight to authorize a strike at the hospital.
"The nurses at Franklin Medical Center with this vote have said that they will not accept proposals that will cut into their ability to deliver quality patient care, they will not allow Baystate to take away their union rights, and they will stand and fight to protect their community hospital. Most of our members are life time, or long time community members. Franklin Medical Center is our hospital and we will continue our struggle to keep it a community hospital," said Donna Stern, RN co-chair of the 209 member bargaining unit.
There have been 25 negotiation sessions over the last year. Baystate management has insisted on proposals that would eliminate the union's ability to negotiate over wages and health insurance. In addition, they insist on the nurses paying more for their health insurance than other Baystate employees. Along with this they want language that would make it very difficult to adequately staff the hospital. Instead of providing enough nursing staff to meet the needs of patients, the hospital is posting schedule for nurses with a significant number of open shifts, which the hospital usually fills with overtime. The hospital wants to stop paying overtime for these shifts, thus jeopardizing the quality of patient care. Baystate is also refusing to accept any language that would change the current policy of disciplining nurses for taking more than three sick day occurrences, even when the nurse is too ill to come to work. This policy forces RNs to decide between going to work sick, thereby putting their patients and co-workers at risk, or facing discipline.
The vote does not mean the nurses will strike immediately. It gives the negotiating committee the authorization to call a strike if it is necessary. Once the committee issues an official notice to strike, the hospital will then have 10 days before the nurses will go out on strike.
Linda Judd RN, bargaining unit co-chair said, "Today's vote shows that the nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center are united in advocating for our practice, our patients, and our hospital. We care for our patients every day. We don't want to strike, but today we have made it clear to Baystate management that we are willing to go out on strike to protect our patients and the quality of care we deliver. Baystate should put the interest of our community, our hospital, and our patients ahead of their corporate interests and profits."
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association 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 also 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.
SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association