Includes Successor Language, Layoff Protections
BEVERLY and GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Just days before the hospital system announced its pending affiliation with Burlington-based Lahey Clinic, the RNs at Northeast Health Corporation—who are unionized with the Massachusetts Nurses Association—reached a tentative agreement with management. The two-year agreement, which was finalized on July13, put an end to more than eight months worth of negotiations and several hot-button issues that had led the nurses to picket this past June.
“We are happy to have had the opportunity to work so collaboratively with management on the final details of this tentative agreement,” said Marie Freeman, RN and co-chairperson of the nurses’ MNA bargaining unit. “Our joint commitment to finding fair solutions to some complicated proposals truly paid off and we settled on solutions that will benefit and protect patients, nurses and management.”
Some of the key issues settled during last week’s final negotiation include:
- Successor Language: Once ratified, the contract will include best-in-class language that guarantees the new owner/affiliate recognizes and honors the nurses’ contract and all of the provisions it includes. As a result, the nurses at NHC can be assured that their contract, rights and benefits will remain 100 percent in effect throughout the Lahey affiliation process, as well as after the affiliation is complete.
- Expanded protections specific to layoffs: Once ratified, the contract will include greatly improved “reduction in force” language that details when/how nurses can move into other positions, thereby guaranteeing the unit’s most senior RNs a level of choice and protection that is standard in the labor sector. Nurses will also be guaranteed six weeks of severance pay.
- Pensions: RNs age 62 years and older can continue with their existing pension plans without any changes, and nurses younger than 62 can choose between two plans.
“We are confident that our members and patients will be protected by all of the provisions included in this tentative agreement,” added Freeman, “and we look forward to working with new management from Lahey and our current NHC management team over the course of the next two contract years.”
Members of the NHC bargaining unit, which consists of nearly 700 RNs, will vote to ratify the tentative agreement in early August.