News & Events

Brigham & Women’s Hospital RNs to Take Strike Authorization Vote on Nov. 13

Will Hold Press Conference on Nov. 14th at 10 a.m. to Announce Vote Result
As Contract Talks Stall Over Issues of Union Rights, Poor Staffing Levels,
Overburdening of New Nurses and Wages

Strike vote will take place throughout the day and late into the evening on Monday, Nov. 13 at the hospital as well as at MNA Headquarters in Canton

Nurses will hold a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. outside the hospital’s main entrance (corner of Francis and Binney Sts.) to announce the result

The 2,700 registered nurses of Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) will take a strike authorization vote on Monday, Nov. 13, 2006 as contract talks continue to stall over a number of issues the nurses believe compromise their ability to advocate for patients, as well as to recruit and retain staff needed to safely care for patients. The vote to strike is being fueled by chronically poor staffing levels at the facility, which are threatening the safety of the patients and causing a high turnover of staff on a number of floors. Key issues in dispute include:

  • Union Rights – The hospital is refusing to agree to contract language that protects union rights for nurses at the facility and their ability to advocate for patients. The proposed contract language, the first of its kind in Massachusetts, is designed to prevent the hospital from exploiting a recent controversial ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, which found that charge nurses (nurses who oversee the flow of patients on a floor), or nurses who perform charge duties may be classified as supervisors, and thereby ineligible for union membership.
  • Protecting Newly Licensed Nurses – The nurses are seeking appropriate restrictions on the responsibilities of newly licensed and newly hired nurses. The overburdening of new nurses by management is a major cause of the high turnover of staff.
  • Competitive Wages – The BWH nurses are paid as much as 10 percent below nurses at like-sized hospitals in Boston. The hospital is offering the nurses a two year contract with a 3 percent per year cost-of-living pay raise each year, while the nurses are asking for 5 percent per year to make BWH competitive with other hospitals.
  • Sick Time & Disability Benefits – The hospital is seeking to restrict nurses’ access to sick time, while refusing to provide a short-term disability benefit, which was the nurses’ number one priority going into negotiations.

The Brigham nurses are outraged by the hospital’s lack of effort to negotiate a fair settlement with the nurses in light of the fact that Brigham & Women’s Hospital is one the busiest and most profitable hospitals in the state. Brigham & Women’s profits increased by 75 percent in 2005 to more than $74 million, and the facility posted another $65 million in profits through the third quarter of this year.

The nurses will cast their vote by secret ballot at two locations: at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis St. and at MNA Headquarters in Canton, 340 Turnpike St. The voting will take place throughout the day late into the evening, with the ballots to be tallied at the MNA after 11 p.m. Media will not be allowed into the polling places, but may talk to nurses entering and leaving both locations. Barbara Norton, the chair of the nurses’ bargaining unit will be available for media interviews throughout the day on Monday, Nov. 13.

As the tally will be completed too late for coverage by the media on Nov. 13, a press conference by the nurses will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006 at 10 a.m. where the official result will be announced. 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 as such time as they feel it is necessary. The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Nov. 16.