From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
October 2008 Edition
The registered nurses represented by the MNA at the Leonard Morse Hospital campus of MetroWest Medical Center in Natick have ratified a new two-year contract that provides a cost of living increase of 5.5 percent and new steps for all the nurses. It also includes provisions to help address nurses’ concerns about insufficient staffing on certain units and new contract language to protect nurses’ union rights.
“We are relieved to have reached an agreement that will provide a more competitive pay scale with other hospitals in our region, while also providing important initiatives that will make our workplace safer for nurses and for our patients,” said Lynn Shaw, RN, a staff nurse at the hospital and chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit. “This contract also includes new language to protect and enhance our union rights and the ability of our nurses to have a strong voice to advocate for patients.”
The two-year agreement runs from Jan. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2009. The pact includes the following key provisions:
- Salary increase: Provides a 5.5 percent salary increase across the board (2.5 percent in 2008 and 3 percent in 2009) while adding two new 3.5 percent steps to the top of the salary scale, which means the nurses’ pay will increase by at least 12.5 percent over the life of the agreement. The starting hourly wage at the end of the contract will be $27.32 up from $25.88 with a top wage step of $53.81 up from $47.58.
- Staffing enhancements: In response to nurses’ concerns over inadequate staffing levels at the facility (MetroWest Medical Center’s staffing ranks among the poorest in the state), the contract establishes an “interim staffing committee.” The staffing committee, which will consist of union nurses and management, will meet over a period of nine months to analyze staffing levels on each unit and recommend needed improvements to ensure safe patient care to the facility’s director of nursing. The contract also includes language creating a pool of nurses who will be specially trained to float among units to support regular full and part-time staff in times of high patient census.
- Protection of union rights: The nurses won contract language that protects union rights for nurses at the facility and their ability to advocate for patients. The language prevents 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 are thereby ineligible for union membership. The new language clearly recognizes the union rights of all nurses in the union.
The 195 nurses of MetroWest Medical Center/Leonard Morse began negotiations on the new contract on Oct.17, 2007, with a tentative agreement reached on Aug. 14.