From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
January 2009 Edition
The registered nurses represented by the MNA at the East Newton Campus of Boston Medical Center have ratified a new three-year contract that provides a cost of living increase of 9 percent, a bonus and a new step at the top of the salary scale. It also includes new contract language to protect nurses’ union rights. In addition, the nurses were successful in preventing inclusion of new language sought by the hospital to force nurses to work on unfamiliar units, as well as the right to unilaterally cancel nurses’ shifts
“We are relieved to have reached an agreement that will provide a more competitive pay scale with other hospitals in our region, while also maintaining important contractual rights to ensure the safest care for our patients,” said Ann Driscoll, 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 three-year agreement runs from Feb. 2, 2008 to Feb. 2, 2010. The pact includes the following key provisions:
- Salary increase: Provides a 9 percent salary increase across the board (5 percent in 2008; 2 percent in 2009 and 2 percent in 2010) while adding a 1 percent bonus in 2009 and a new 2 percent step in 2010 for nurses at the top of the salary scale.
- Benefits enhancements: Improvements were made to the nurses’ bereavement, military leave, vacation, earned time cash out and tuition reimbursement benefits.
- 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 new language clearly recognizes the union rights of all nurses in the union and closes a loop hole created by the controversial ruling of the National Labor Relations Board, which raised concerns about the union status of nurses performing charge duties (overseeing patient flow on a unit).
The nurses were also able to fend off onerous management proposals: one which would have allowed the hospital the unilateral right to cancel nurses’ shifts; and another that would have given the hospital greater latitude to “float” nurses from one area of the medical center to another where they may be unfamiliar with the equipment or procedures and may not be able to provide appropriate care.
“We are proud of what we have achieved in this negotiation, not only in the gains we made, but also in how we were able to use our union power to protect our existing rights,” Driscoll said.
The 600 nurses of Boston Medical Center/ East Newton Campus began negotiations on the new contract in December 2007, with a tentative agreement reached on Nov. 3, 2008.