MNA nurses demonstrate show of force at Democratic convention
Resolution condemning Baystate’s anti-union tactics passes
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
July/August 2012 Edition
Making the most of an opportunity, nurse advocates and leaders from the MNA attended the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention on June 6 in the hopes of bringing about change for patients and nurses who live in the western part of the state. At the convention, which was held in Springfield, the nurses worked tirelessly to pass a resolution condemning Baystate Health for its blatantly anti-union activities and called on hospital leadership to respect the unionized nurses, return to the table, and bargain in good faith.
The nurses and their supporters needed to get 50 delegate signatures for their resolution to be voted on. After only a few hours of signature gathering the nurses had more than 650 delegates signed on. Among those who signed the petition were several legislators and numerous local elected officials. When the resolution came to the floor of the convention it passed on a voice vote with almost no dissent.
Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/ National Nurses United who work at the Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (BVNAH) in Springfield and Baystate Franklin Medical Center (BFMC) in Greenfield were highlighting Baystate’s ongoing attempts to eliminate the fundamental right to bargain over such basic issues as wages and health insurance. Both units have been in prolonged contract negotiations.
“We are very gratified by the overwhelming support of the thousands of delegates to the Democratic Party Convention. Now is the time to get back to the table and complete a fair settlement so we can continue to deliver excellent care to our patients in the Pioneer Valley,” said Baystate Franklin Medical Center bargaining unit co-chair Donna Stern, RN.
The successfully passed resolution cited in part Baystate’s “documented history of antiunion behavior” and “has been found by the National Labor Relations Board to have violated federal labor law, and has consistently opposed workers’ right to organize.”
According to BVNAH negotiating committee member Chris Clark, RN, the convention was an important part of the nurse’s campaign to educate the community. “We were able to speak with hundreds of delegates and the support was tremendous,” said Clark. “Many of the delegates already knew Baystate’s anti-union history, and many more were educated about that history and the present situation. To get such an overwhelming vote from those thousands of delegates will only make us stronger and deepen our commitment to keep the campaign moving forward.”
The registered nurses of these two Baystate Health bargaining units have been waging an aggressive campaign for four months. They have used billboards, radio ads and yard signs to inform the Western Massachusetts community about Baystate’s strident anti-union activities. The convention provided the opportunity to expose Baystate to the entire commonwealth.