TV Coverage of Baystate Franklin Medical Center Nurses' Vote to Authorize a Strike
Baystate Franklin nurses authorized to go on strike
Posted: Aug 31, 2012 4:10 PM EDT Updated: Aug 31, 2012 4:17 PM EDT
By Samantha Lavien - email
GREENFIELD, MA (WSHM) -
After 25 unsuccessful negotiation sessions the Massachusetts Nurses Association has given nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center permission to go on strike if they feel it is necessary.
"We're nurses; we're patient advocates. This is about us not losing our voice and I'm not going to lose that voice," the Jr. Co-Chair of the nurses bargaining unit at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Donna Stern said.
More than 200 nurses at the hospital have been in contract negotiations since October. If the nurses chose to go on strike they are required to give the hospital 10 days notice. But, both sides say they hope it doesn't come down to that.
"I think we need to reach a resolution because the longer this goes on the more tension it creates for everybody," said the president of Baystate Regional Markets, Check Gijanto.
The nurses say that the contract that the hospital wants them to sign would eliminate their collective bargaining rights.
"If you take away your collective bargaining over your wages, you take away your collective bargaining over your health insurance. You have a punitive sick policy, and you take away overtime, essentially you've taken away the four pillars of any contract," Stern said.
"We are offering a very fair wage and benefit package," Gijanto said. "It is clearly in line with what the market is seeing right now. Unfortunately it has some nuances to it that folks don't like."
Overtime is one of the big issues on the table. The hospital wants to only pay overtime for nurses that work more than 40 hours a week.
"We are as a hospital needing to make the best choices that we can make given the environment that we're in so that we can continue to effectively operate a viable hospital in the community," Gijanto said.
Nurses disagree and say that the hospital is trying to break up their union
"What Baystate is proposing are tactics and ways to destroy our union and we're just not going to allow that to happen," Stern said.
"We have no intention of breaking up the union. We have no interest in breaking up the union," Gijanto said.
Forty-nine visiting nurses in Springfield are also undergoing contract negotiations.
Another negotiation session is scheduled for next month. Both sides are hoping that they will be able to come to an agreement.
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