2008 News

Brigham & Women’s Hospital RNs Ratify New One-Year Contract



Pact Includes Improvements in RN Staffing Levels to Ensure High Quality Care

BOSTON, MA – The registered nurses of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) voted yesterday to ratify a new contract. The one-year pact includes long-sought improvements in RN staffing levels to ensure the highest quality of patient care. It also includes pay increases that will make the BWH nurses among the highest paid nurses in the state.

“We are pleased that the hospital and the nurses have reached an agreement and look forward to its successful implementation to ensure the highest levels of compassionate, quality care for our patients,” said Barbara Norton, RN, chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit. “While other hospitals in Massachusetts are making shortsighted decisions to cut RN staffing in these uncertain economic times, this agreement recognizes the valuable role nurses play in keeping patients safe in the hospital.”

The agreement runs from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009, and includes a 2 percent across the board pay increase with a new 2.5 percent step at the top of the pay scale. As a result, at the end of the agreement nurses’ pay will range from $29.90 per hour at the bottom of the pay scale up to $63.75 an hour at the top, which will make the nurses among the highest paid nurses in the state.

Staffing Improvements The pact also includes a number of improvements in nurses staffing levels including:

  • The hiring of additional staff to improve the nurse-to-patient ratios on the hospital’s busiest units, including those providing critical care to cardiac patients.
  • A commitment to increase staffing in our labor, delivery and post partum departments to meet national professional standards of care for mothers and newborns.
  • A pilot program calling for the addition of resource nurses to improve the flow of patients throughout the hospital, ease overcrowding in our busy emergency department, and to decrease the extended delays that some patients experience while waiting to be transferred to an appropriate bed.
  • A pilot program calling for the posting of additional nurse shifts to account for increases in patient volume and acuity.
  • A commitment to meet monthly with the union to review staffing and patient care issues, with the goal of identifying opportunities to further improve care.

“The nurses of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital are proud to work for this premier institution and, through the voice and protection afforded us by our union representation, we remain committed to using that voice to meet our primary objective – to ensure that every patient under our care receives the best care possible,” said Norton.

The 3,000 nurses at BWH, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, began negotiations in July, 2008 with a total of 11 negotiating sessions held before a tentative agreement was reached on Oct. 23.