Bargaining Unit Updates
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
April 2009 Edition
Jordan Hospital nurses reject hospital’s ‘final offer’
In response to hospital’s “final offer” for a contract settlement, the nurses at Jordan voted “No” by an overwhelming majority on April 7. The final offer had called for no across-the-board salary increase, along with a sharp increase in nurses’ costs for health insurance at a time when nurses are working harder and faster with a 25 percent increase in their patient assignments.
Now that the vote has been cast, the negotiating committee will contact a federal mediator to schedule another negotiating session with management. The negotiating committee hopes to hammer out an agreement that is fair and equitable.
The vote was the largest turnout in recent history of the MNA at Jordan Hospital. The committee, which had recommended a “no” vote, applauds the nurses’ commitment and will continue to work for a contract that represents their position. The nurses are seeking a 2 percent across-the-board wage increase over two years, no change in the health insurance premium and regulation of floating (agreed).
Cape Cod Hospital RNs Reach Two Year Agreement
The nurses at Cape Cod Hospital ratified a new two-year contract that will grant a 2 percent annual increase to nurses at the top of the pay scale. The agreement also maintains a stepped salary scale, granting all nurses below the top step a 4 percent increase on their hiring anniversary each year. Other key provisions: a new health insurance plan that will keep the same premium contributions while maintaining the quality of the overall benefit; maintaining the staffing ratios negotiated two years ago; and restoring staffing that had been cut from the psychiatric unit a few months ago.
Tufts Medical Center
Nurses at Tufts Medical Center continue negotiating a new contract. In April the nurses began circulating a petition highlighting the key issues in the dispute including: salaries that are competitive with other Boston hospitals; a contractual commitment to meet monthly with nurses to address staffing and patient safety concerns to ensure optimum patient care; strict limits on the floating of nurses to ensure the complex patient population receives care from nurses oriented to, and experienced in delivering the specialized care patients need; and removal of management demands for concessions from the nurses, including a call for mandatory cancelation of shifts and cuts to health insurance benefits.
Worcester Public Health Nurses
The city of Worcester recently announced the layoff of nearly all the MNA nurses who provide public health protection to the state’s second largest city. This group of nurses has provided vital preventive services to immunize against, track and manage over 150 infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, salmonella, the flu and West Nile Virus. The cuts in services and staff leave the city vulnerable to the unwarranted spread of infectious diseases. It will also deprive the city’s most vulnerable children and adults of access to immunizations and other health screening services. “While everyone understands we are in a fiscal crisis, this decision places hundreds, if not thousands, of our residents at risk for harm and leaves the most vulnerable in our city stranded without necessary care,” said Anne Cappabianca, chair of the MNA bargaining unit.
Unit 7 joins with families to protect DMR patients
The 1,800 RNs and other healthcare professionals who make up Unit 7 are working with the families to protect the quality of care for the state’s most vulnerable patients. Unit 7 members supported the annual lobbying day by the Coalition of Families and Advocates for the Retarded in April. This year’s event was particularly significant in light of the recently announced plans of the Patrick administration to shut down four DMR facilities at Fernald, Glavin, Monson and Templeton. COFAR says these closings would cause a painful disruption for the patients for cost savings that the DMR commissioner has admitted would be negligible. The Unit 7 leadership is trying to help educate the public on these issues and continues to speak out about the importance of funding for the state facilities and the important care they deliver every day.
After many months of talks it has become clear that the primary issue is the pension plan. Management wants to discontinue the defined benefit plan and replace it with a defined contribution plan. The nurses have pointed out to management that this action would place all the liability on the nurses. The nurses made a counter proposal that the Brockton Hospital-MNA bargaining unit become part of the MNA Taft Hartley pension plan that the MNA is currently forming. Management continues to say that even this plan exposes them to too much liability. The nurses’ negotiation committee has called an open meeting to explain the situation to the members and seek their advice.