After Over 1,000 Days Contract Ratified
Important Advances in Patient Care Issues, Wages and Benefits
After 1,085 days without a contract, the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s Unit 7 bargaining unit today has ratified an agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
“This contract was very difficult to settle but it serves the needs of our members and brings much needed relief. While the process was very long and drawn out, the negotiation committee continued to draw strength from the membership. Although we work in many sites around the Commonwealth, the nurses, therapists, and other health care professionals gave us constant feedback as we went down this road,” said Mike D’Intinosanto, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association Unit 7 bargaining unit.
The contract, which covers July 1, 2003 through December 31, 2007, includes pay increases of 11 – 18 percent for RNs and other members, which will make the pay scale more competitive in the marketplace.
“While we have more to do, this settlement brings our membership closer to being equivalent with the private sector. This should give our patients and their families a comfort level that these senior and experienced nurses, and other health care professionals, will continue to provide excellent care to the state’s most vulnerable patients,” said D’Intinosanto.
Among the other highlights of the contract settlement are:
- Mandatory Overtime: The MNA and the state will meet on issues pertaining to overtime and staffing during the contract. If a resolution is not reached, the contract calls for mandatory mediation.
- Dental Trust Fund: The Commonwealth will increase its contribution to the Dental Trust Fund by $2 per week, per employee.
- Vacation Buy Back: Full time employees may buy back up to seven vacation days a year. This will save the state money it would have to spend covering these days with another employee.
State employed health care professionals include registered nurses, physicians, pharmacists, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, dentists, speech and hearing therapists and podiatrists. They work in soldiers’ homes for disabled veterans, state hospitals for the mentally ill and psychologically disabled, residential facilities for mentally retarded adults, centers for HIV and drug-affected mothers and children, group homes for those cannot live independently, and high security facilities for violent adolescents or suicidal and homicidal residents.
According to D’Intinosanto this settlement will bring energy for the next set of talks. “Looking back this has been a long and tough process but, more than ever, we are anxious to get back to the table with a new administration in 2007. There are still many issues important to the quality care we deliver to out patients that have yet to be resolved.”