News & Events

BMC Nurses reject contract proposal

Nurses reject contract proposal
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff,
Updated: 03/30/2011 12:00:54 AM EDT

Wednesday March 30, 2011

PITTSFIELD — The nurses at Berkshire Medical Center have rejected a new, three-year contract proposal, sending both sides back to the collective bargaining table.

Representatives of the Massachusetts Nurses Association on Tuesday night didn’t release a final tally of votes from all-day balloting at BMC by a majority of the 531 union members. But local MNA officials said the tentative agreement reached by union and management negotiators two weeks ago was an overwhelming failure with the rank-and-file.

"There was a high level of dissent for the proposal," said Gerri Jakacky, co-chair of the union bargaining committee. "We look forward to working on a new proposal."

BMC officials, disappointed with the outcome, are a bit perplexed that the nurses union rejected the proposal.

"We continue to feel this is a very strong contract offer and it is the same kind of offer that has been approved by MNA nurses at several other hospitals in the state," said BMC spokesman Michael Leary.

The MNA and BMC have spent the past nine months trying to settle their labor dispute, which required a federal mediator to help broker the tentative deal one week before a scheduled strike vote.

One of the last major sticking points between the MNA and BMC had been the salary for nurses who work three, 12-hour shifts each week. Under their current contract, these nurses receive premium pay for the extra four hours not included in the schedule. BMC had proposed phasing out that pay, which the union said was tantamount to a salary cut.

Union officials had reported that under the new, tentative agreement, nurses on this timetable would have the option of adding a scheduled four-hour shift to give them a 40-hour work week. The end of the premium pay wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2012, for those already in the position.

The agreement also included decisions about contract language on health and safety issues, Jakacky had said; specifically it addressed workers compensation in the event of a physical assault in the workplace.

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