Wednesday, March 9
NWH Picket: 3 – 5 p.m.
NSMC Picket: 2 – 4:30 p.m.
2014 Washington St. Newton, MA
North Shore Medical Center
81 Highland Ave. Salem, MA
CANTON, Mass. – The registered nurses of Newton-Wellesley Hospital and North Shore Medical Center, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, are taking the extraordinary step of conducting joint informational picketing outside their respective facilities on March 9 to protest what they believe is the failure of Partners HealthCare to provide the best possible patient care and working conditions while dishing out exorbitant salary hikes to top executives.
“Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organization that has generated nearly $2 billion in profits over the last five years,” said Laurie Andersen, a registered nurse in the emergency department at NWH and co-chair of the MNA/NNU Local Bargaining Unit. “For Partners to make that kind of money and yet refuse to invest in meaningful improvements to patient care and nurse staffing conditions at two of its acute care hospitals is disrespectful to the communities Partners serves and insulting to the nurses it employs.”
Nurses at both NWH and NSMC have been bargaining over new contracts with Partners since September 2015. The nearly 1,000 nurses at NWH also plan to vote to authorize a strike on March 9. They join approximately 600 nurses at NSMC in their frustrations over months of unsuccessfully bargaining with Partners over nurse proposals to improve patient care, working conditions and nurse wages.
“Throughout North Shore Medical Center, nurses have expressed frustration that Partners continues to place its desire for profits ahead of its concern for patients and those who care for them,” said Kathy Schevis, a registered nurse at NSMC and co-chair of the MNA/NNU Local Bargaining Unit at the hospital. “The public rightfully wants nurses at the bedside 24 hours a day, caring for people at their most vulnerable. Yet hospital management disregards nurse proposals that would ensure safe and consistent patient care.”
Both NWH and NSMC have patient care proposals that Partners refuses to agree to, including:
· Staff nurses in charge should not have a patient assignment. A “charge nurse” is responsible for all patients and nurses in their area. If she has a patient assignment, she is not able to effectively supervise and assist other nurses. This nurse should be managing the flow of patients, be on hand to assist less experienced nurses with more complex cases, while also picking up patient assignments when staff become overburdened.
For years, both NWH and NSMC have been affiliated with Partners HealthCare. The Partners system is the most profitable health care employer in the state, posting profits in 2014 alone of more than $120 million, with revenues in excess of $10.9 billion, according to state tax filings. From 2010 to 2014, Partners made more than $1.9 billion in profit.
A non-profit organization like Partners should be investing this fortune in health care for the communities it serves and in the employees who provide that care. Instead, Partners uses its enormous profits to enrich its top executives. The five highest paid Partners executives got a nearly $1.3 million combined pay hike from 2013 to 2014, equaling a 23% increase in salaries.
“Despite repeated attempts to reach agreement on a reasonable wage increase for NWH nurses, Partners HealthCare refuses to loosen its grip on its enormous profits,” Andersen said. “We are forced to take to the streets, to bring public attention to Partners’ greed. We are seeking a wage increase that barely accounts for inflation. Partners routinely provides its executives double-digit raises.”
“It is insulting to think that while Partners executives are luxuriating in multi-million dollar salaries and huge pay hikes, nurses at NSMC are offered wage increases that would be less than half the rate of inflation,” Schevis said. “We are caretakers. Partners should care for us.”
The strike authorization vote at NWH has been scheduled to take place throughout the day and into the evening on Wednesday, March 9. Nurses at NWH will cast their strike authorization vote by secret ballot outside the hospital. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The vote does not mean the nurses will strike immediately. It gives the negotiating committee the authorization to call a one-day strike if and when they feel it is necessary. If the committee issues its official notice to strike, the hospital will then have 10 days before the nurses will go out on strike.
The parties at NWH began negotiations on Sept. 2, 2015 and to date 12 sessions have been held. The contract had an expiration date of September 30, 2015. A federal mediator is expected to schedule the next session between the parties at NWH.
The parties at NSMC began negotiations on Sept. 23, 2015 and to date 12 sessions have been held. The contract expired on September 30, 2015 but has been extended through the next session, scheduled for March 23, 2016.