From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
March 2010 Edition
After more than two years of brutal negotiations, the MNA bargaining unit at Brockton Hospital recently ratified a three-year contract.
At the start of negotiations, management came to the table with a number of takeaways, including one that was so unacceptable that the bargaining committee and unit members prepared for a long, hard fight. According to unit chair Kathy Metzger, RN, “Management presented a proposal to eliminate our defined benefit pension plan and instead only offered a defined contribution plan.”
From there, the committee struggled forward through months of negotiations, membership meetings, the arrival of a federal mediator and a tentative agreement that the membership overwhelmingly voted down before—finally—an agreement was reached that held some positive improvements.
“We were able to gain very positive language on workplace violence that is among the best in the state. We won successor language that guarantees our union rights and contract if the hospital is sold,” Metzger explained. “And we were also able to back management off from its original pension proposal and our present pension will continue. “
In terms of economics, the bargaining unit gained increases on evening and night differentials, a bonus in lieu of retroactive pay, and pay increases in each of the three years of the contract. The unit also secured language that allows its members to have access to many more “out of system health care procedures.” Previously, MNA nurses at Brockton Hospital were forced to pay an additional fee for going outside Brockton Hospital even for services the hospital did not offer.
“We are very proud of the fact that we were able to win that bit of language,” added Metzger. “It is a tremendous improvement in the health care benefits for our members.”
UMass University campus
After more than a year of negotiations, the MNA bargaining unit at UMass University campus voted to approve a three-year contract that includes a number of positive language changes.“While we didn’t get everything we wanted, I think the contract that the members approved includes language that improves working conditions at the hospital,” said bargaining unit co-chair Kathy Logan, RN.
The settlement means that nurses will see an improvement in the employer contribution to the dental plan; time-and-a-half pay for the evening shift on Christmas Eve; increases in the on-call and resource differentials; and an expansion of the bereavement benefit.
According to unit co-chair Margaret McLaughlin, RN, one of the most positive aspects of the year’s worth of contract negotiations was the committee’s success in fighting off a number of negative proposals from the hospital. “Management once again came after our pensions, and also wanted part-time nurses to pay more for health insurance,” described McLaughlin. “We were able to protect these and other benefits.”
“With the support of the membership we were able to hold the line and make great improvements on behalf of the bargaining unit,” said Logan. “In the midst of an economic and political climate like today’s, that is always good news.”