Regional Council 1 News
Baystate Noble Hospital Nurses Ratify Contract
WESTFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Baystate Noble Hospital, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted on Monday, Nov. 27 to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We are proud of this agreement and what it will mean for our quality of patient care,” said Pam Fournier, RN and Co-Chair of the MNA Baystate Noble Bargaining Unit. “By standing together, our nurses were able to successfully negotiate a fair contract that values the patient care nurses provide and respects our contribution to the hospital.”
“This shows what we can accomplish when hospital administrators agree to sit down and negotiate with union nurses,” said Paul Dubin, RN and Co-Chair of the MNA Baystate Noble Bargaining Unit. “MNA nurses have a voice in their patient care and working conditions because we stand together. Our new contract is the result of this protected ability to advocate for our patients and colleagues.”
Highlights of New Agreement
- Contract effective April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2020.
Nurse Staffing/Safe Patient Care
- Language requiring Noble take steps to relieve nurses from duty so they can take meal breaks they are legally allowed under Mass. law. This agreement helps ensure nurses are not working beyond their capacity to provide safe and effective patient care.
- Contract language committing the hospital to comply with the state’s ICU law that limits how many patients an ICU nurse can care for at one time.
- Nurses will no longer be required to work more than two on-call shifts per week, also helping to ensure nurses are working at their best capacity when caring for patients.
- Language requiring nurses to be given at least eight consecutive hours of off-duty time immediately after they work 16 consecutive hours. Nurses also shall not be allowed to exceed 16 consecutive hours worked in a 24-hour period. National best practices of nursing care recommend against nurses working beyond 12 hours in a row due to patient safety concerns and Massachusetts law prohibits nurses from working more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period.
- Substantially improved health plans with a new open enrollment period in January 2018.
- Across-the-board wage increases each year. For most, 2.2% on the first full pay period after the contract was approved, then 1.25% on 4/1/2018 and 1.25% on 4/1/19.
- Significant “wage step” upward adjustments for RNs whose pay steps were frozen for up to four years when the Hospital was going through difficult financial times. The agreement returns those RNs to the proper step for their total years of service.
- Improved educational reimbursement so that nurses can advance their practices.
- Improved pay differentials, such as on-call, PM/night shift, weekend, precepting, charge pay and differentials based on education and certifications.
- Language protecting rights of LGBTQ staff.
No Hospital Takeaways
- No reduction in holidays or vacation days that had previously been proposed by the hospital.
- No diminishment in OT rules that had previously been proposed by the hospital.
Noble nurses began bargaining in February 2016 for a new contract to replace their agreement expiring March 31, 2016. A federal mediator was part of negotiations. Noble nurses voted to authorize a one-day strike and reject management’s “best and final” offer on August 8, 2017 following their first informational picket in 20 years in January 2017 and a joint picket at Baystate’s corporate headquarters in Springfield with Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses.