The registered nurses of the UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus will take a strike authorization vote on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006 as contract talks continue to stall over management’s continued refusal to remove a number of significant concessions they are seeking from the nurses – concessions the nurses believe will compromise their ability to retain and recruit staff needed to deliver quality patient care at the region’s only Level One Trauma Center.
After posting $100 million in profits over the last 18 months, the hospital is seeking to delete the nurses’ defined benefit pension plan, dramatically increase health insurance costs, cut nurses’ sick and personal time, while offering a 1 percent salary increase. The hospital’s concessions would cost most nurses up to $8,000 a year in lost wages and benefits. The hospital’s proposed change in pension benefits represents a 35 percent cut in retirement savings and a potential loss of as much as $104,000 for many nurses.
If the nurses vote for the measure, the strike authorization vote does not mean the nurses would be calling for a strike immediately. The vote authorizes the negotiating committee to call a strike at such time as they feel it is necessary. If and when the nurses issue their notice to strike, the hospital would than have another 10 days’ notice to come back to the negotiating table before the nurses walk off the job. The next negotiating session between the nurses and hospital management is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006.
Nurses will cast their vote by secret ballot at the Frohsinn Club, 25 North Quinsigamond Ave., Shrewsbury.
The voting will take place from 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Media will not be allowed in the polling places but may talk to nurses entering and leaving the building. All voting will be completed by 9:00 p.m. The nurses will tally the ballots and announce the result of the vote at 10:00 p.m. (Note to editors and reporters: the UMass Memorial nurses’ bargaining committee has voted to release the result of the vote only [yes or no]. They will not be releasing the counts or the percentages of the vote. Members of the committee will be available for interviews by the media when the results are released.)
Kathy Logan, RN, 508.685.1435 or David Schildmeier, 781.249.0430