News & Events

Selected Media Coverage of the Baystate Franklin Medical Center Nurses Strike

The Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses concluded their historic one day strike for patient safety and a fair contract on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 a.m.  Below is a selection of the extensive media coverage the strike garnered.

Nurses’ strike ends at Baystate Franklin Medical Center
Published: Saturday, October 06, 2012, 2:23 PM     Updated: Saturday, October 06, 2012, 5:44 PM
The Republican

| John Suchocki Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses picket on Friday morning to protest stalled contract talks between the nurses’ union and Springfield-based Baystate Health Systems.
GREENFIELD – Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center returned to work at 7 a.m. on Saturday after their 24-hour strike.
The strike began at 7 a.m. Friday.

The next negotiation session between the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Baystate Franklin Medical Center is set for Oct. 25.

“We already have several offers on the table that have been there for the past two bargaining sessions – including wage increases, bonuses to address critical shift overtime, and health insurance changes – which the union has yet to respond to with counter offers.

“The ball is now in their court, and we are hoping they will get serious about making progress since we have no intention of simply negotiating against ourselves,” Chuck Gijanto, Baystate Franklin Medical Center president, said in a statement released on Saturday.

There are 209 registered nurses in the union, and nearly 600 supporters held signs and marched on Friday outside the hospital to protest proposed changes to overtime and sick time. Baystate wants nurses to receive time-and-a-half overtime pay after they have already worked 40 hours. Nurses now receive overtime if they work beyond the end of their usual shift.

Jane S. Albert, Baystate spokeswoman, said there is a proposal to give a $50 bonus to nurses who work four hours beyond their regular shift. She added that nurses are not being forced to come to work sick. Currently, a discipline process starts if a nurse uses more than four sick days in any 12-month period.

Donna L. Stern of Greenfield, a registered nurse and co-chairwoman of the bargaining committee, has said nurses have offered compromises such as figuring the four-sick-day limit on a calendar year, or allowing nurses to take personal days with shorter notice in case of family emergencies.

Albert said nurse supervisors and managers from Baystate hospitals in Springfield and Ware went to Greenfield to work at that hospital during the strike. Nursing services continued throughout the hospital during the strike, with the exception of the intensive care unit.

“Just because there’s been a strike doesn’t mean that more money has magically appeared,” Gijanto said in the statement.

Gijanto said the hospital is trying to preserve jobs during tight economic times.

“The union needs to acknowledge these realities and work with us to negotiate a contract that is both fair and affordable,” Gijanto stated.

According to a news release from the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the strike was the first in the history of the Greenfield-based hospital, and came after a year of “fruitless negotiations.” It also stated that 28 negotiation sessions have taken place.

Nurses called the strike in response to what they said were unfair labor practices.

“Baystate has taken some very radical positions that would be harmful to quality patient care and they continue to demand concessions from the nurses that would cost the nurses thousands of dollars and deeply cut into their ability to negotiate over wages and health insurance,” Stern said in a statement.

“Yesterday, we the nurses of Franklin Medical Center took historic action and held a one day strike. We did this to protect our community hospital and the safety of our patients. The strike was very successful because working together we got our message out to the community and received tremendous support from the community in response. We will continue this struggle until we gain an equitable contract that will guarantee quality and safe patient care at our community hospital,” Stern continued.

At strike, Baystate Franklin nurses get honks of support from passing motorists
Published: Friday, October 05, 2012, 8:40 AM     Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012, 6:00 PM
By Doron Tyler Antrim, The Republican The Republican

At dawn, a long blue line of striking nurses began encircling Baystate Franklin Medical Center, protesting the failure of hospital management and the nurses’ union to come to a deal over critical issues in their contract.
Beginning at 7 a.m., the group set off from the corner of Beacon and High streets amid cool temperatures and the yet-to-burn-off fog. Almost immediately, passing motorists showed their support by honking their horns.
The nurses wore blue Massachusetts Nursing Association jackets and carried signs reading “Nurses on strike for patient care” and “Baystate: Stop union busting.” Their chants could be heard from inside the hospital’s lobby.
The strike is scheduled to last a full day, until 7 a.m. Saturday, with the hope that nearly all 209 unionized nurses will take part. Participants will picket for six, 4-hour shifts, said Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesman Charles Rasmussen.
The law requires the union to provide the hospital and the state with 10 days notice before striking so that the hospital can make arrangements for the safety of patients.
The vote to authorize the strike was held on Aug. 30.
In a statement released early Friday, President of Baystate Regional Markets Chuck Gijanto said: “We are very busy as we continue to care for a full house of patients and their families, with care provided by our nursing leaders and several of their colleagues from throughout Baystate Health. We are heartened by their presence here and feel confident that we are well staffed for the strike period.”
This is the first time the bargaining unit at Baystate Franklin has decided to go on strike.
The two biggest hurdles in the contract negotiations have been overtime and sick time rules.
Baystate wants to begin paying overtime by the week, kicking in after the 40th hour of the week. Currently, nurses get paid time-and-a-half if they work beyond their usual daily shift.
The change would save the hospital money at a time when it says it desperately needs to do so.
“Baystate has taken some very radical positions that would be harmful to quality patient care and they continue to demand concessions from the nurses that would cost the nurses thousands of dollars and deeply cut into their ability to negotiate over wages and health insurance,” Donna Stern, a registered nurse and co-chair of the bargaining committee, said in a statement Thursday.
“What doesn’t add up here is that the nurses are suddenly claiming that it is unsafe for patients if we don’t agree to continue paying them overtime on a daily basis,” Gijanto said in a statement Wednesday. “Our expectation is that our nurses will provide the same quality care to their patients whether they are getting paid their regular median rate of $40/hour or time-and-a-half median rate of $60/hour.”
Rules about sick time are unfair, nurses say. Currently, a discipline process begins when a nurse uses more than four sick days in any 12-month rolling period, as opposed to a calendar year — which the union supports.
Gijanto has said that sick time abuse costs money and impacts other staff.
“Baystate doesn’t want to get [the contract] done,” Rasmussen said. But, he added, “It’s never at impasse. There’s always something to talk about.”
The union has been in negotiations since last October. The current contract expired at the beginning of the year.
On Wednesday, more than 125 nurses and their supporters picketed Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
Baystate Franklin Medical nurses strike draws hundreds of participants, supporters
Published: Friday, October 05, 2012, 5:45 PM     Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012, 7:12 PM
GREENFIELD – Just shy of 4 p.m. Friday, nearly 600 supporters had held signs, marched and rang bells outside of Baystate Franklin Medical Center nine hours into the 24-hour nurses strike.
More would be coming through the night to protest the stalled contract talks between the nurses’ union and the Springfield-based Baystate Health Systems, said Donna Stern, co-chairwoman of the union bargaining committee.
She had been on site since 6 a.m. and said she would stay until midnight. She had to work at 7 a.m. so she said she was going home to sleep. The strike is scheduled to end then.
There have been 28 bargaining sessions since last October without a settlement. The nurses – members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association – voted to go on strike Aug. 30 if necessary and then had to provide the hospital with a 10-day notice for Friday’s action.
Stern said they had support from nurses from New York, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers, and politicians including U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who marched for more than an hour earlier in the day. Members of the Franklin County Technical Teachers Association also came by to hold signs in support when their school day ended.
“Baystate is a huge corporation,” said teacher’s union president Elyse Cann of Holyoke, “and they are a small group of union employees. They’re essential to the community. I feel they’re being disrespected.”
Meanwhile, motorists passing by continued to wave and honk in support. Stern said it had been loud like that all day.
She said there was no trouble getting people to work the line even into the night.
“We’re nurses,” she said. “We have shifts.”
She said they are organized but would rather be working not on the line. “I want to be with my patients,” she said.
But they want respect from the hospital, she said.
“They have not been willing to come into the room to talk in good faith.”
Deb Palmeri, chief nursing officer for Baystate Franklin Medical Center

, said that they have met with the union across the table all but two times.
“When the MNA gave us their strike notice, we recognized that there was a lot of emotion around the issues, and rather than having the emotion drive the negotiations, we wanted to focus on resolving the issues.

,” she wrote in an email.
“The federal mediator agreed that to move the negotiation process forward, it was best that the parties communicated their positions through him.

 The federal mediator agreed that he would communicate each party’s position to the other. This is a process that is routinely used during labor negotiations
The bargaining unit represents 209 registered nurses at Baystate Franklin and another 55 home health nurses at Baystate Visiting Nurses and Hospice. This is the first time the union has gone on strike, she said.
The disagreement between the two sides is over sick time and overtime. Baystate wants to figure overtime by the week so that it starts after the 40th hour of the week. Right now, nurses at the hospital in Greenfield get time-and-a-half if they work beyond the end of their usual shift. If a nurse, for example, is scheduled to work an eight-hour day but works 10 hours, the nurse would receive two hours of time-and-a-half pay.
But under the change, a nurse would not get the overtime if he or she worked fewer than 40 hours that week.
As for the running of the hospital during the strike, Chuck Gijanto, President, Baystate Regional Markets said in an email, that “the hospital is busy and running smoothly and we have had a seamless transition of care for all of our patients.
“The nurses here today have excellent clinical skills, are well trained in patient care and experienced with the electronic medical records and technology, as they are all part of the Baystate family,” he wrote.
The two sides have agreed to return to the bargaining table Oct. 25.
Baystate Franklin Nurses Head Back to Work after One Day Strike
October 6th, 2012
GREENFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center headed back to work Saturday morning after one-day strike.
The 209 nurses walked of the job at 7:00 a.m. Friday and returned to the Franklin County hospital in unison at 7:00 a.m. Saturday.
Friday’s job action, which the union says is the first in the hospital’s history, came after months of negotiations over a new contract.
The Mass. Nurses Association sees the strike as a success, in part because of the community support shown through car horn’s honking throughout the day, as well as food and beverages that were dropped off by residents.
“We were pushed to call the strike in order to protect our community hospital and guarantee our continued delivery of safe patient care. It is so very heartening to see the massive amount of support from the community. Cleary the citizens and patients of Franklin County understand the issues and are supportive of our efforts. We want to thank all of them for all they have done,” says bargaining unit co-chair Donna Stern, RN.
Baystate Franklin remained open the entire time, providing nursing care throughout the hospital’s units, except for the ICU.
Hospital officials say that weeks of preparation and the help from staff at other Baystate Health locations helped keep things running as business as usual.
“Our nursing leaders at Baystate Franklin, working in partnership with their colleagues from the other Baystate Health hospitals and with the BFMC staff nurses who chose to cross the picket line, proved the value of our integrated health system, and demonstrated what grace under pressure is all about. I am so proud of everyone who came together at Baystate Franklin to make sure we had what we needed to provide excellent patient care, and though the day went very smoothly on the inside of the building, we are keenly aware of the work which lies ahead of us now that this strike is over,” says Baystate Franklin President Chuck Gijanto.
The union says that they have been bargained 28 times over the last year where “Baystate Management has committed a number of unfair labor practices and has refused to make the necessary compromises to settle an equitable contract.”
However, Baystate Franklin says that they have come with proposals, but the union has made no counter-offers.
“We need constructive discussions at the table, and the MNA is not interested in engaging with us to get the job done and settle this contract. We have made offers, they are not making counter offers, and we cannot bargain against ourselves,” says Gijanto.
The hospital says that the “sticking point” is over the payment of overtime on a weekly, rather than daily, basis. Baystate wants to maintain their proposal of time-and-a-half only after a nurse has worked 40 hours a week, instead of a per-shift basis, as is outlined in their current contract.
The union contends that “Baystate has taken some very radical positions that would be harmful to quality patient care and they continue to demand concessions from the nurses that would cost the nurses thousands of dollars and deeply cut into their ability to negotiate over wages and health insurance,” according to Donna Stern, RN, who is co-chair of the bargaining committee.
The union and hospital are set to meet again on October 25. “We are eager to get back to the bargaining table and finalize the contract,” says Gijanto.
TV 3 CBS News In Springfield
Baystate Franklin Medical nurses strike under way
Posted: Oct 05, 2012 10:24 AM EDT Updated: Oct 05, 2012 1:47 PM EDT
By Samantha Lavien – email
More than 200 nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center are on strike after almost a year of unsuccessful contract negotiations with the hospital.
“This is the first time in our history that we’ve had to go on strike,” said co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit, Linda Judd. “But this is too important to not bring it to the public’s attention. We are fighting to keep a strong voice at our hospitals”
“What I hope comes out of today is that they get the message that we are very serious about wanting to settle a fair and equitable contract,” said co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit, Donna Stern.
And although outside the hospital nurses are taking to the picket lines, inside officials are working hard to keep business running as usual.
“We have changed a few things,” said the President of Baystate Regional Markets, Chuck Gijanto. “For the Ors, for example, we have staff available for emergency surgeries. We postponed and rescheduled all of the elective surgeries, same thing with endoscopy and our ICU is closed today.”
Nurses from other Baystate facilities are filling in the gaps throughout the 24-hour-strike.
“I think that if you’re a patient in this hospital today you’d have no idea that there is a strike going on outside,” Gijanto said.
To date there have been 28 negotiation sessions. CBS 3 asked both sides what it will take to come to an agreement and end these negotiations.
“They need to take the overtime off of the table, leave the contract intact,” Judd said.
“At the last session we put a compromise on the table. And, I believe that we are going to need to compromise to settle this. I don’t think that just saying no is going to get us anywhere,” Gijanto said.
The nurses plan to continue their strike until 7 Saturday morning. The next negotiating session is scheduled for Oct. 25.
Copyright WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
TV 40 Coverage
Nurses head to the picket lines
Baystate Franklin nurses begin 24 hr. strike
Updated: Friday, 05 Oct 2012, 9:11 AM EDT
Published : Friday, 05 Oct 2012, 4:33 AM EDT
GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Franklin nurses will walk off the job in Greenfield Friday morning, after a deal could not be reached with hospital leaders, this week.
209 unionized nurses at Baystate Franklin have stopped working, and will remain on the picket lines until 7:00 Saturday morning.
The sick time policy is one of the sticking points in the labor dispute. Some nurses told 22News that they’re weary of calling out because they’re afraid of being disciplined if they miss a certain amount of days. But the hospital says the only discipline any workers face, is when they’re repeatedly not showing up for their scheduled shift. Baystate Franklin also said it does not force or pressure any of its employees to come in when they’re not feeling well.
Another major sticking point is overtime pay. Right now, the nurses get paid time-and-a-half for any extra time they work over their daily shift. However, the hospital’s president says they have to switch to weekly overtime pay in order to save money and avoid layoffs.
“This is a very common pay practice among hospitals in Massachusetts, and nothing we’re doing here is out of the norm”, said Chuck Gijanto, President of Baystate Franklin Medical Center.
Hospital leaders proposed bonus pay for to its registered nurses who agree to work for blocks of four hours or more that are considered “critical to fill”.
But Baystate Franklin nurses, like Donna Stern, told 22News, they believe it’s unfair.
“When a hospital staffs this way, and then they turn around and don’t pay, they get to ignore the staffing problems in the hospital. They get to ignore the unsafe practices that are going on” stated Stern.
Besides Wednesday night’s negotiating session, there have been 27 others to date: each one of them ending in a deadlock. Baystate Franklin said it offered two dates later this month to continue with negotiations, but the Massachusetts Nurses Union told 22News the nurses have to check their schedules, before they commit. However, a union spokesperson did confirm that they plan on heading back though to the negotiating table.
A contingency plan will be in place at the hospital during the strike. The Emergency Room will be fully staffed, but the Intensive Care Unit will be closed. The Greenfield Police will also be setup around the hospital during the demonstration.
  • Hospital patients and visitors can still use the front parking lot on High Street, and enter through the main lobby; or use the Sanderson Street lot and enter through the ground floor entrance.
  • Emergency room patients can park in the lot directly outside the Emergency entrance.
  • The Beacon Street parking area will be closed throughout the strike period.
  • Patients who have appointments at the 48 Sanderson Street building can park in the facility’s lot and enter through the main entrance to the side.
  • The entrance facing Sanderson Street will be locked for the day.
Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses strike set to begin
Published: Thursday, October 04, 2012, 5:45 PM     Updated: Thursday, October 04, 2012, 5:46 PM
By Jim Kinney, The Republican The Republican
GREENFIELD – With no bargaining scheduled for Thursday, it was all but certain that unionized nurses will strike Friday at Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

The 24-hour strike will begin at 7 a.m. and run until 7 a.m. Saturday, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Nurses plan to walk the picket all night, said union spokesman Charles Rasmussen.

Baystate Health has said the hospital, including the emergency room and the maternity department, will be open with replacement nurses. All surgeries that are not emergencies have been rescheduled, including scheduled cesarean births that were rescheduled for Thursday. Baystate reduced the number of patients at Baystate Franklin’s mental health ward in anticipation of the strike.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association represents 209 nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center along with 55 home health nurses at Baystate Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice.

The visiting nurses work out of offices in Springfield but the Massachusetts Nurses Association will not picket in Springfield Friday, Rasmussen said Thursday. Nurses and their supporters did picket Baystate Medical Center in Springfield Wednesday.

At issue are wages and work rules governing sick time and overtime.

Now, nurses at Baystate Franklin earn their overtime by the day. If a nurse is scheduled to work eight hours and works 10, that’s two hours of overtime regardless of how many hours that nurse works during the week.

Baystate wants overtime to start after 40 hours a week, a move officials there say will save $80,000 from a $180,000 annual overtime bill.

Nurses counter that very few of them are ever scheduled to work 40 hours in a week. Therefore they would never get time and a half under the proposed rules.

Also, Baystate wants to continue to be able to start a disciplinary process after a nurse uses four sick days in a 12-month period.

The union wants nurses to get a clean slate with every calendar year instead of a rolling year and more flexibility to use personal days to deal with family emergencies and the like

Nurses to strike at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield
 |  Globe Staff
Unionized nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield plan to hold a 24-hour strike Friday to protest what they say are demands for unreasonable concessions in contract negotiations that broke down without a settlement Wednesday night.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents 209 nurses in the Western Massachusetts community hospital, said proposals from its Springfield-based parent, Baystate Health System, would increase overtime at the Greenfield hospital and discipline nurses for using legitimate sick time, forcing them to care for patients while ill.
Baystate Health said nurses union representatives were unwilling to negotiate seriously on the hospital’s proposals and declined to commit to dates for further bargaining later this month. The hospital said it will proceed with its strike contingency plans, bringing in replacement nurses to care for patients from 7 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.
The sticking point in the contract talks is a proposal to pay time-and-a-half only after a nurse has worked 40 hours in a week, rather than on a per-shift basis as is called for in the current contract, according­ to the hospital.
Great comment under one of the stories on the Franklin Strike
Baystate is a wealthy corporate system whose CEO makes millions of dollars each year. Baystate execs control bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Ireland and the U.K. as well as in the U.S. They own the insurance company that their employees use. The ambulances that take Franklin County patients to Springfield are run by a for-profit Baystate subsidiary. Most Baystate property is not taxed because it is held by non-profits with a charitable mission.

It’s ironic that Baystate wants to blame greedy nurses for the trouble that Baystate executives are making for themselves. Trying to take non-profit resources away from the folks who perform their mission and spending it instead on lawyers, spin doctors, ads, and men in suits who make strange decisions in the Baystate executive suites; it won’t fly no matter how many times you repeat the lies and half-truths.

Baystate CEO Mark Tolosky is the most powerful man in Western Massachusetts; decisions he and his subordinates make determine the circumstances of our childrens’ births, our elders’ final hours, and the quality of care we receive after accidents or illness. I feel it is not impertinent to suggest that he act with generousity and compassion, and, if possible, renounce the policy of aggressive corporate aggrandizement, and employee disempowerment, that is driving Baystate’s efforts to degrade nurses’ schedules and working conditions.