From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
October 2008 Edition
The registered nurses of Mercy Medical Center recently ratified a two-year contract that will provide salary increases of 7.5 percent, improvements in weekend differentials, tuition reimbursement and new contract language to protect nurses union rights.
The 300 nurses who make up the MNA bargaining unit at the Springfield hospital had been involved in contract negotiations with management since last October.
According Stephen Mikelis, RN and the unit’s chairperson, “It was a difficult process but ultimately worthwhile. While Mercy management didn’t make this easy, we were able to settle an equitable contract for the next two years. With this contract in place, we should be able to retain and recruit the highly qualified and experienced nurses that our patients are used to.”
In the agreement the nurses were able to gain contract language that will protect them, and the union, from attempts by management to split the union by declaring that—because a large number of the nurses are performing supervisory duties—they could be removed them from the union. This language was the result of recent rulings by National Labor Relations Board under President Bush.
Among the economic advances are acrossthe- board salary increases of 3.5 percent effective Jan. 1, 2008 and 4 percent effective Jan. 1, 2009, improvements to weekend differential pay and tuition reimbursement. The nurses also negotiated language that spells out how management must address temporary staff reductions (on a voluntary basis) when the patient census is down.
“We are satisfied to have finished this process with positive results for the nurses and the patients, but we also understand that there is still much work to be done on patient safety and many other issues. We are starting right now to organize for the next contract. It is the least we can do to protect the quality of care at Mercy Medical Center,” said Mikelis.