Tufts Medical Center Calls on MNA/NNU to Stop Undermining Negotiation Sessions

MNA/NNU ended last week's negotiating session to attend labor rally in Chicago, raising serious questions about NNU interference and commitment to reaching an agreement at Tufts Medical Center

Mar 28, 2011, 07:00 ET from Tufts Medical Center

BOSTON, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tufts Medical Center today called on the Massachusetts Nurses Association and its parent union National Nurses United to stop undermining negotiation sessions with the hospital. Tufts Medical Center is committed to resuming negotiations today with the MNA, even as the union continues to place roadblocks in the way of negotiating progress.

Tufts Medical Center recently learned that the MNA/NNU abruptly ended last week's negotiating session so members of its bargaining committee could attend an NNU rally the following day at the University of Chicago Medical Center. MNA negotiators had previously agreed that they would stay as late as necessary with Tufts MC negotiators to work toward agreement on a contract extension proposal from the hospital.

For today's session, the MNA/NNU has already established a hard stop prior to 6 p.m. so bargaining committee members can host a prearranged strike training with members.  This is the second time the MNA/NNU have arranged meetings on already-scheduled bargaining days, essentially preempting any possibility of working late on an agreement good for Tufts MC nurses.

The NNU has been pushing an aggressive agenda of rigid, mandatory staffing ratios across the country, which has led to repeated pickets, strike threats and even some walkouts at hospitals in California, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Washington DC, Minnesota, Illinois and Massachusetts. The NNU has already scheduled a strike vote next month at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where the rally took place that Tufts Medical Center MNA bargaining committee members attended.  

"I find it extremely disconcerting and disappointing that members of the MNA bargaining committee would put an early end to negotiations here to fly to Chicago for an NNU  rally about a medical center in a different time zone from where their members work. The Committee should be focused on their own members' and working together for this community," said Ellen Zane, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center.  "This action – along with the prearranged strike training – raises serious questions about the union's commitment to its local nurses who work hard each day to deliver the kind of top quality care our patients have come to value and expect from Tufts Medical Center.  We have listened to our nurses and responded with concrete proposals that enable us to move forward together.  The union has responded by flying halfway across the country to further a national agenda that has nothing to do with the best interests of patient care, our nurses or our hospital."

In an effort to reach an agreement on a contract extension for its nurses, Tufts Medical Center has made significant, forward-looking proposals to the NNU/MNA on the issues most important to its nurses. Tufts Medical Center's offer includes proposals to:

  • Pilot a program placing a charge nurse without patient assignments on units with rapid patient turnover during certain times of the day to assist in the work of admitting and discharging patients
  • Hire more nurses who would be available on a moment's notice to fill staffing gaps created by sick calls or increased patient loads.
  • Set significant limits on overtime – a key priority of Tufts MC nurses
  • Limit temporary reassignments – another key priority of Tufts MC nurses
  • Work collaboratively toward defined, agreed-upon benchmarks with nurses to arrive at concrete solutions to other staffing issues
  • Provide nurses with a 3-percent raise, with no changes to health and retirement benefits.

According to the NNU's web site, the union requires that all affiliates work to achieve its national agenda items, including mandatory staffing ratios and other limits on the flexibility of hospitals to staff appropriately and safely.

SOURCE Tufts Medical Center