North Shore Medical Center Nurses Ratify New Contract
SALEM, Mass. — The 600 nurses of North Shore Medical Center, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MNA/NNU), voted Wednesday to ratify a new union contract, improving patient care and nurses’ working conditions at the hospital.
NSMC nurses won hard-fought enhancements to patient care following 10 negotiating sessions with the hospital and Partners HealthCare. The two-year contract, negotiated on April 26, also includes improvements to nurses’ working conditions and benefits, and a fair wage increase for all RNs. The agreement has a start date of Oct. 1, 2015 and includes a retroactive 1 percent raise for all RNs back to the beginning of the contract. It will expire Sept. 30, 2017. Negotiations began in September 2015.
Highlights of the agreement include:
- Restrictions on how many times a nurse can float during a single shift and floating limits for nurses with 25 years’ or more seniority. Nursing is a specialized health care profession and floating practices in acute care hospitals can be dangerous. Floating is used by hospitals to meet their obligations to ensure that all patient care areas are adequately staffed, largely because core nurse staffing has taken a hit as hospitals look to maintain their bottom lines. Floating compromises patient safety and has been linked to nurses’ dissatisfaction and decreased morale.
- Limits on patient assignments for nurses in charge, depending on their shift and unit. A “charge nurse” is responsible for all patients and nurses in their area. If she has a patient assignment, she is not able to effectively coordinate care and assist other nurses. This nurse should be coordinating the flow of patients, be on hand to assist less experienced nurses with more complex cases, while also picking up patient assignments when staff become overburdened.
- Effective Oct. 4, 2015: 1% across-the-board salary increase for all nurses, retroactive for nurses employed on the date of ratification; Effective Oct. 2, 2016: New 1% max step. For nurses below the top step, a 0.5% salary increase
- Among other agreements, the hospital will significantly increase tuition reimbursement for nurses, add sister-in-law and brother-in-law categories to bereavement leave, and make improvements to last-minute nurse cancellation and pay differential language
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses’ union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast.