NLRB Decision Coincides with Vote At Democratic Convention
Calling Upon Baystate to Respect Nurses Union Rights
Canton, Mass — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has sided with the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United in finding that the Baystate Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice (BVNAH) unlawfully declared impasse and implemented their so-called “final offer” on February 16, 2012. After a lengthy investigation by the NLRB they concluded that the unfair labor practice charge that the Union filed against Baystate had merit by finding probable cause that Baystate violated the National Labor Relations Act.
The NLRB decision coincides with an overwhelming vote by the delegates at the 2012 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention to pass a resolution condemning Baystate Health for their blatantly anti-union activities and calling on them to respect the unionized nurses and return to the table and bargain in good faith.
In January after a year of negotiations BVNAH had unilaterally declared that impasse had been reached and therefore they had the right to implement their last offer, which they subsequently did.
Rather than going forward to a lengthy formal hearing process, the MNA and Baystate have agreed to a settlement that gives the nurses a clear victory.
“We couldn’t be happier,” said bargaining unit committee member Chris Clark, RN. “The NLRB investigated and found that the agency clearly violated NLRB laws. When they declared the end to negotiations and implemented their last offer it was an insult to each and every member. Baystate’s intent was to scare the members. It has not worked. The Committee and the members are anxious to get back to the table and negotiate an equitable contract.”
The immediate result is that a formal NLRB Settlement Agreement will be posted in the facility and sent to each bargaining unit employee. It states in part that the BVNAH will not declare impasse prior to providing information requested by the MNA relevant for negotiations, and that the Agency will not announce or implement any terms of its “last best and final offer” prior to reaching a lawful impasse in negotiations.
Among the issues still in contention when Baystate illegally declared impasse is a proposal by Baystate to implement an attendance policy that would be extremely unsafe to both nurses and patients by forcing nurses to work even if they are ill. Baystate is also proposing that the nurses should accept a second-year wage package solely determined by management. In the near future a date will be set to continue negotiations. This means that the Agency will not be able to unilaterally impose its attendance policy (or any other part of its final offer) and will have to return to the bargaining table upon request by the Union to conclude the negotiating process!
Nurses Gaining Strong Support for Their Cause
Last weekend at the 2012 Democratic Convention, 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 State 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 undercut their 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 anti-union 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. 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.”