Baystate RNs picket during hospital's dedication of new building


From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
April/May 2012 Edition

MNA Vice President Karen Couglin addressing the crowd in Springfield.

Angry chants and protest signs greeted local dignitaries and hospital managers as they gathered recently at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for the center’s dedication of its newest hospital building.

Members of the MNA’s bargaining units at both Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and the Baystate Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice were there to protest the union busting tactics and unreasonable concessionary demands the hospital has put forward during current negotiations.

“While they are dedicating their $250 million ‘Hospital of the Future’ they are offering proposals that will decimate our ability to negotiate an equitable contract,” said VNA committee member and RN Chris Clark. “If we accept their proposals, we will compromise the future for the nurses who go into the community every day to care for patients in Greater Springfield.”

Several hundred nurses and local labor supporters participated in the picket, making it a show of force and sending a clear message to Baystate management that the union is serious about protecting its rights.

“We want the community to understand that we are very serious about retaining our union rights, as those rights are key to providing nurses the ability to advocate for better working conditions and safer patient care,” said Donna Stern, RN and co-chair at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. “We plan to be very creative in getting the message across that Baystate made $61 million in the last fiscal year and is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on bricks and mortar while attacking the caregivers who have the greatest impact on a patient’s health and safety.”

In addition to the picket, nurses launched a supporting public information campaign a week later, with a billboard on Interstate 91.