News & Events

RNs at Quincy Medical Center ratify new contract

Pact comes after months of contentious relations with hospital management

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
October 2010 Edition

The RNs of Quincy Medical Center ratified a new union contract on Sept. 23, one that they hope will result in safer staffing conditions and that will allow nurses to provide the care their patients deserve. The nurses reached a tentative agreement on the new pact on Sept. 10, a few weeks after placing a full-page ad in local newspapers seeking the public’s support in convincing management to adhere to promised staffing levels.

The new contract calls for the hospital to adhere to specific staffing guidelines for each area of the hospital on a daily basis and it also limits the assignments for resource nurses, those nurses whose role it is to manage the flow of care in order to ensure the efficient movement of patients throughout the system.

“We are cautiously optimistic that with this new contract the hospital will honor its previous commitments regarding nurses’ patient assignments,” said Paula Ryan, chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit. “However, given the hospital’s handling of these negotiations, their treatment of nurses over the last several months, and their past refusal to staff appropriately, we intend to watch this situation closely and will continue to inform the public of our concerns for patient safety.”

The nurses agreed to accept the hospital’s demand for a 3 percent wage cut, along with a freeze to their pension and other benefit concessions, in exchange for a guarantee that those changes would sunset and wages and benefits would be restored at a specific time. For example, the wage cut will sunset on March 31, 2011 and the pension freeze will be lifted as of Dec. 31, 2010.

“As always, the nurses have agreed to make sacrifices for the good of the hospital,” Ryan said. “All we are looking for is to be treated with respect and to be provided with working conditions that allow us to give quality patient care.”

Negotiations for a new contract began on Feb. 18, with only six sessions held, when management abruptly ended negotiations, declared impasse and implemented their last offer on April 4. The nurses immediately filed a charge of unfair labor practice against the hospital and hundreds of nurses picketed the facility on April 1.

When the NLRB failed to uphold the MNA’s charge, the union appealed the decision to the NLRB in Washington but agreed to withdraw the appeal following ratification of the contract. The newly ratified agreement expires on Jan. 31, 2011.