FRANKLIN, MA -- Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center voted overwhelmingly on September 3 to submit their proposals to a neutral arbitrator for resolution of the contract negotiations which have been ongoing for nearly two years. The MNA committee had submitted a comprehensive proposal at negotiations with Baystate on August 22 which included a process for resolving the negotiations by both sides submitting their proposals to an independent arbitrator for a final and binding ruling which would bring bargaining to a conclusion after 38 negotiation sessions. Binding arbitration for the resolution of negotiations is a well-tested procedure commonly used to resolve firefighter and police negotiations. An arbitrator takes into consideration such factors as industry standards, comparability within the profession, the employer’s financial standing, along with both parties’ arguments supporting their respective positions.
“We believe that our proposal is fair and reasonable, consistent with industry standards for hospital nurses in Massachusetts,” said Linda Judd, the co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit and a long-time nurse on the medical unit at BFMC. “Arbitration is a tried and true process routinely used for resolving negotiations for firefighters, police, and others. We have had pickets, rallies, and a strike, and have so much support from both our community and our elected officials. On behalf of our community we propose this as a way to bring these negotiations to a close. We are confident in the reasonableness of our position, but in any event, we are willing to live with a neutral arbitrator’s ruling in order to bring negotiations to a conclusion.”
Donna Stern, a nurse on the mental health unit at BFMC, and co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit, added, “Baystate has been saying for over a year that they believe their proposal is fair and consistent with industry standards. If they really believe what they have been saying to nurses and to the public, they should join us in submitting our proposals to an arbitrator for a final and binding resolution of these negotiations.”
The negotiations have been marked by rallies, pickets, a strike, and resolutions of support issued by the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, along with elected officials and residents across Franklin County. In addition, the union has filed several sets of charges with the National Labor Relations Board and upon investigation the NLRB has issued a formal complaint and scheduled a trial to begin on November 18 at the NLRB regional headquarters in Boston. Additional charges filed by the MNA are still under investigation and review by the NLRB.
Negotiations are scheduled to resume on September 25 when the nurses will hear from Baystate about the proposal to resolve negotiations through binding arbitration.