Quincy Medical Center Nurses Conduct Informational Picket on April 13 To Protest the Hospital’s Refusal to Negotiate a New Union Contract After Management Prematurely Called Off Talks and Implemented Its Last Offer
Nurses outraged by unilateral imposition of 3% wage cut, 5% increase in health insurance costs & pension freeze, as well as the hospital’s refusal to address the nurse’s call for safer staffing levels
When: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 from 2 – 5 p.m.
Where: Quincy Medical Center, 114 Whitwell St., Quincy, MA
The 300 registered nurses of Quincy Medical Center, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, plan to conduct an information picket outside the entrance to the facility from 2 – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. The picket was scheduled after the MNA filed an unfair labor practice charge against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board for their appalling decision to cease negotiations for a new contract and to declare impasse after only six sessions. Citing the hospital’s financial instability, QMC management is demanding that the nurses cut their wages by three percent, increase their health insurance by five percent, and freeze their pension along with other benefit cuts, all of which were implemented on Sunday, April 4.
“The nurses of this hospital are outraged by this unprecedented, and we believe, illegal approach to what should be a good faith process to reach a fair settlement that protects the hospital while valuing the role of nurses in making this hospital run day in and day out,” said Paula Ryan, RN, a longtime nurse at the hospital and chair of the local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “They are demanding that nurses make significant sacrifices, without providing us the opportunity to negotiate over those changes. For them, it’s take it or leave it. They are stomping on our legal rights and we will not be bullied, we will not be intimidated.”
For their part, the nurses have stated they could agree to some concessions, providing the hospital reciprocates by agreeing to make staffing improvements promised in the last round of contract negotiations, and that the concessions sunset (which means the cuts would be automatically restored) at the end of the new contract. The nurses are also seeking an ex officio (non-voting) seat on the hospital board of trustees, which will allow them to provide input in the hospital’s “transformation” plan.
“The nurses are fully aware of the hospital’s financial situation, and we are not opposed to making sacrifices, which is something we have been doing for the last decade to help this hospital,” said Ryan,. “However, we also have a greater responsibility to our patients, and we cannot accept a contract that fails to ensure that we have the staff and resources to keep our patients safe. We all have a vested interest in supporting this hospital, but we can’t do so at the expense of our patients well being. It’s one thing to shortchange staff, it’s quite another to undermine the core mission of this hospital, which is to provide quality nursing care.”
Negotiations for a new contract began on February 18, 2010, with a total of six sessions held to date. The contract expired on March 31. The MNA charge against the hospital contends that the hospital’s declaration of impasse was premature, coming only after five bargaining sessions, and only one with a Federal Mediator, who was called in by both parties for their last session on March 24 to help the parties move the process forward.