2008 News

Mercy RNS picket for fair contract & quality care

04.15.2008

Latest hospital proposal a threat to patient care

Carrying signs that read “BE FAIR TO THOSE WHO CARE” and “FAIR WAGES RETAIN RNs.” Registered Nurses at Mercy Medical Center held an informational picket line today to inform the public, and their patients, about the lack of progress in their contract negotiations. The RNs have been involved in contract negotiations with management since last October. The 300 nurses make up the Massachusetts Nurses Association bargaining unit at Mercy.

The nurses’ demonstration comes at a time when inadequate wages and staffing conditions are preventing this hospital from attracting and retaining the nursing staff needed to deliver the level of care our patients deserve.

In 2007, Mercy Medical Center RNs filed 446 “unsafe staffing” forms. These forms are used to document instances in which individual RNs feel that there are not enough nurses on duty to provide safe patient care.

“Every day we see more Unsafe Staffing Reports filed, and this is with a highly qualified and experienced staff,” said Steve Mikelis, RN and chair of the bargaining unit. “If management doesn’t improve their offer, I can see a situation where many of the most experienced nurses will look for better jobs and leave the hospital. Some may ask why they stay at Mercy when they can go to Hartford or Worcester, where experienced RNs are highly valued and earn $5 or $10 an hour more.”

Mercy Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in Western Massachusetts. The nurses are frustrated that the latest management offer does not come close to recent settlements at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, and at Providence Hospital, which is part of the Mercy system.

“We love the patients we care for, the work we do, and the community we serve, but we also have families and responsibilities. We want to stay here and the hospital desperately needs to retain and recruit the most experienced nurses,” said Mikelis.

FPO