Labor and Health Care Issues
Berkshire Medical Center Nurses Withdraw One-Day Strike Notice, Talks to Continue
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Berkshire Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, agreed to withdraw their one-day strike notice late Thursday night after progress was made during negotiations and to create space to make further progress. Nurses told the hospital an agreement cannot be reached without improvements to RN staffing.
Nurses emphasized at the end of the marathon bargaining session that they retain the right to re-issue a new 10-day notice of a new one-day strike date if talks do not proceed and further emphasized that there must be a contractual commitment to improve staffing.
A 24-hour strike had been scheduled to start at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Progress was made Thursday in the form of an agreement from management stating that the RN staffing grids will not be worsened during the life of the new contract. Nurses still are seeking language that commits management to improving staffing levels and improve patient care conditions. The hospital also still has not provided all of the data necessary to negotiate health insurance and no agreement was reached on that issue.
“We are glad to have made enough progress to avert our one-day strike for now,” said Alex Neary, RN and Co-Chair of the BMC RN Bargaining Committee. “We retain the right to re-issue our strike notice if the hospital does not agree to a contract that both protects and improves patient care and provides nurses fair health insurance.”
If another one-day strike were to be scheduled, nurses would need to issue a new 10-day notice to the hospital. The Patient Safety Vigil scheduled for Monday will still be held as nurses join with their community members in solidarity for patient care improvements and a fair contract.
Patient Safety Vigil
Date: Monday, Feb. 26
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Location: The main entrance of BMC at 725 North St. in Pittsfield
The nearly 800 BMC nurses have been negotiating a new contract since September 2016. Nurses held a one-day strike on October 3 and were then locked out of the hospital by BMC management for four additional days. The next bargaining session is scheduled for February 22. Negotiations include a federal mediator.
For more details on negotiations go to http://massnurses.org/news-and-events/p/openItem/10773 or contact Joe Markman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.