Cambridge Hospital Nurses to Protest Hospital’s Attempt to Slash Retiree Benefit - July 22
Demonstration Comes the Day Before the Hospital is Set to Implement 40 percent Cut to Nurses’ Retiree Health Care Benefit and the Deadline for Those Who Can Opt to Retire With the Current Benefit
When: Thursday, July 22, 2010 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Where: Cambridge Hospital, 1493 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA
The registered nurses of the Cambridge Hospital campus of the Cambridge Health Alliance have voted to conduct an informational picket on July 22 to protest the hospital’s violation of state labor law in their effort to slash nurses’ retiree health benefit and deprive them of their rights. The demonstration outside the front entrance to the hospital will occur the day before the hospital is set to implement a 40 percent cut to nurses’ retiree health care benefit and the deadline set by management (July 23) for nurses who opt to retire with the current benefit.
In April, the hospital requested to reopen the contract with nurses at Cambridge Hospital, and talks began in May. After holding only five meetings, the hospital ceased negotiations on June 24, declared an impasse, and announced they were moving forward with their last, best and final offer, which included the cut to the retiree health benefit.
The hospital’s action was a blatant violation of state labor law and on July 12 the State Division of Labor Relations issued a formal complaint against the Cambridge Health Alliance, stating that the employer “…failed to bargain in good faith…and interfered with, restrained, and coerced employees in the exercise of their rights…” The nurses are outraged that a CEO of a public sector facility would knowingly and deliberately ignore the laws of the state and violate the rights of those on the front lines who provide care for the community.
The nurses see the retiree health benefit as a key to retaining nursing staff at Cambridge Hospital who could have made more money working at nearby private sector hospitals. For many of the nurses, particularly those closest to retirement, the cut could have a devastating impact on the cost of their health care and could threaten their retirement security. Many of these nurses are not eligible for Medicare, and are solely dependent on this benefit for their health care in their senior years.
Despite being cited by state authorities, management is planning to implement the cuts to nurses’ retirement benefit as of July 23, and is forcing nurses who want to keep their current benefit to file their retirement papers on that date. They are forcing nurses to choose between a paycheck and a promised retirement benefit.
The Cambridge Hospital nurses, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, are committed to reaching a fair resolution to their contract and to this issue and are using the picket to appeal to the community for support in convincing the Board of Trustees to require CHA administration to obey the law, return to the bargaining table, and to work to restore a respectful and productive relationship with the nurses.