News & Events

UMass Memorial Medical Center Nurses Ratify New Two-year Contract

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Pact Grants Memorial Nurses Parity in Pay and Benefits with their Colleagues at UMass University & the Hospital Agreed to Remove All Demands for Concessions by the Nurses

WORCESTER, MA – The registered nurses from the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice campus of UMass Memorial Health Care, cast a nearly unanimous vote this week to ratify a new two-year contract. The pact was reached after the hospital agreed to remove all their demands for concessions by the nurses, including their plan to cut home health & hospice nurses pay by 10 percent. Instead, the pact meets the nurses’ call for parity in pay and benefits with their colleagues who work at the UMass University campus.

The agreement will provide a 1 percent pay raise in 2010, 1.5 percent in 2011 and the restructuring of the top steps of the wage scale eliminating tenured steps.

“We are very pleased that the hospital has finally agreed to remove its call for concessions, and instead, has agreed to provide us with a wage on a par with our colleagues in the UMass system,” said Lynne Starbard, RN, Co-chair of the bargaining unit. “This contract is fair and we hope it will allow us to recruit and retain staff needed to provide quality care.”

The nurses continue to be concerned about the closure of a desperately needed medical surgical floor at the hospital, and the impact that closure and other staffing cuts will have on patient care. For its part the hospital refused to agree to set safe staffing ratios as part of the agreement.

“While management failed to agree to our call for limits on nurses’ patient assignments, which we believe is critical to provide quality care, we intend to utilize the existing mechanisms in our union contract to work with management to ensure our patients receive the care they deserve,” said Lisa Cargill, RN, one of the vice chairs of the nurses’ bargaining unit. “If that doesn’t work, we will once again appeal directly to the public as we have over the last several weeks, to seek their support in forcing the hospital to provide quality care.”

The MNA represents more than 1,000 nurses at the UMass Memorial, Hahnemann, Home Health and Hospice campus of UMass Memorial Health Care. Negotiations for a new contract began in Oct. 2009, with a total of 21 sessions held, with the last eight involving a Federal mediator.

Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is also a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 150,000 members from coast to coast.