The 125 registered nurses of Nashoba Valley Medical Center (NVMC), who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), voted yesterday to ratify their first union contract.
The three-year agreement, which is effective immediately and runs through Dec. 31, 2018, brings to successful conclusion negotiations that began when the RNs joined together as a union in July 2014.
“We really hope that this agreement will help improve recruitment and retention of nurses,” said NVMC surgical RN and MNA co-chair Fran Karaska, “and we hope that will make the care we provide to the community better than ever, which is our goal.”
Highlights of the agreement include:
— Wage increases that will, on average, increase RNs’ wages by 25 percent over the life of the contract.
— A decrease in the cost of nurses’ health insurance and access to health insurance for part-time RNs.
— Language that guarantees RNs are paid overtime for time worked beyond the end of each daily shift.
— Important agreements on respect for RNs time commitments to the hospital and personal time when they are off. These include pay for daily overtime, more in line with other Massachusetts hospitals, and elimination of the hospital’s policy allowing RNs’ shifts to be cancelled or sending nurses home mid-shift. “More predictable schedules are an important sign of respect for nurses’ commitment to our hospital,” added Karaska.
The vote to ratify the contract followed the nurses’ November 13 settlement of a tentative agreement. Yesterday’s vote was held from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the hospital.
“We are so proud of the nurses and their families for sticking together for each other and for the community,” says NVMC emergency department RN and MNA co-chair Sue Fluet. “Now, not only do we have a union, we now have a contract. Our success will say something to everybody who doesn’t yet have a union: We have the ability to stand up for each other. We want to get the best results for a successful hospital for the patients and the staff and everybody. It makes you feel good hoping that now the hospital will be an even better place for the community.”
“We could not have done this without the support of the community,” added Fluet. “And we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for everything they did.”