UMass Memorial Medical Center nurses ratify new two-year contract
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
November/December 2010 Edition
Pact grants Memorial nurses parity in pay and benefits with colleagues at UMass University
The registered nurses from the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice campus of UMass Memorial Health Care, cast a nearly unanimous vote to ratify a new two-year contract. The pact was reached after the hospital agreed to remove all their demands for concessions by the nurses, including their plan to cut Home Health and Hospice nurses pay by 10 percent. Instead, the pact meets the nurses’ call for parity in pay and benefits with their colleagues who work at the UMass University campus.
The agreement will provide a 1 percent pay raise in 2010, 1.5 percent in 2011 and the restructuring of the top steps of the wage scale eliminating tenured steps.
“We are very pleased that the hospital has finally agreed to remove its call for concessions, and instead, has agreed to provide us with a wage on a par with our colleagues in the UMass system,” said Lynne Starbard, RN, co-chair of the bargaining unit. “This contract is fair and we hope it will allow us to recruit and retain staff needed to provide quality care.”
The nurses continue to be concerned about the closure of a desperately needed medical surgical floor at the hospital, and the impact that closure and other staffing cuts will have on patient care. For its part, the hospital refused to agree to set safe staffing ratios as part of the agreement.
“While management failed to agree to our call for limits on nurses’ patient assignments, which we believe is critical to provide quality care, we intend to utilize the existing mechanisms in our union contract to work with management to ensure our patients receive the care they deserve,” said Lisa Cargill, RN, one of the vice chairs of the nurses’ bargaining unit. “If that doesn’t work, we will once again appeal directly to the public as we have over the last several weeks, to seek their support in forcing the hospital to provide quality care.”
The MNA represents more than 1,000 nurses at the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice campus of UMass Memorial Health Care. Negotiations for a new contract began in Oct. 2009, with more than 20 sessions held—eight of them involving a federal mediator.