Patient Safety Threatened By Lack of Contract
The Registered Nurses who work for the BayState Visiting Nurses and Hospice, Greenfield office today held a standout picket and rally on Greenfield Common. This event came as the frustration continues to grow over the lack in negotiations for a contract. Three years ago when the Franklin Medical Center (FMC) affiliated with BayState Medical Center, part of the deal removed the FMC hospice and visiting nurses from FMC and put them under a new organization. Because of this change the nurses set up a separate bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and began negotiating a contract.
"After two years at the table we still don’t have a comprehensive offer from management. They seem content to drag their heels and let the negotiations for this ‘first’ contract go on forever," said Diane Morrissey, RN. "I have been delivering quality home health care to patients in this community for many years. I must say that the way we are being treated by BayState is an insult to me, my fellow nurses and, most importantly, our patients."
While both sides remain far apart, the nurses view the primary problem as being BayState’s insistence that the nurses in Greenfield settle for a contract similar to a contract in Springfield but not nearly as beneficial as the contract they worked under at FMC. In essence management is asking the RNs to do the same work for less benefits and compensation. Among the reductions for the nurses would be:
- A wage offer with no step scale and a very small increase but reduces the current pay of some members
- Cutting benefits that we now receive
"Of primary importance to us is the ability of the agency to recruit and retain experienced nurses. Most of us have many years experience in this community and wish to continue serving this area; but with what management is presently offering us, we would be hard pressed to stay. This could have a very direct affect on the quality of health care in the upper Pioneer Valley. We feel great about the support we got today and the support we have received from both our patients and the community," said RN Elaine Lemieux, a VNA nurse with many years of experience.
The nurses will continue leafleting in downtown Greenfield on the weekends. The nurses are asking their supporters to call President Ruth Odgren at BayState Visiting Nurses and tell her to settle an equitable contract with these community nurses.