Greenfield, Mass – Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses will conclude a 24-hour unfair labor practice strike Tuesday at 6 a.m., and plan to re-enter the hospital to care for their patients. Baystate has threatened to continue its unprecedented preemptive lock out, prompting RNs and community supporters to march Tuesday on a member of the Baystate Health Board of Trustees in Greenfield.
At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, nurses and community supporters will march from the hospital to meet and speak with Baystate Health Board of Trustees member Timothy Farrell at work at 525 Bernardston Road in Greenfield. Nurses and supporters will request a meeting with Farrell to urge him to ensure good faith bargaining. Nurses and supporters will then march to the Greenfield Town Common for a rally at noon Tuesday.
“Our one-day strike was about protecting our patients and allowing nurses to live healthy, quality lives,” said Donna Stern, co-chair of the nurses bargaining unit for the 200 nurses at BFMC. “Baystate has chosen to lock out its own local nurses instead of agreeing to properly value and respect us. We have worked hard for months to reach an agreement with local management. Unfortunately, it is clear that decision-makers in Springfield are unwilling to bargain in good faith.”
RN Public Schedule for Tuesday – Wednesday
6 a.m. Tuesday, June 27: One-day RN strike ends. Nurses will gather outside the hospital at 164 High St. in Greenfield and those scheduled to work plan to enter BFMC to care for their patients. Baystate has announced it will stop nurses from entering.
9 a.m. Tuesday, June 27: Nurses and community supporters will march from the hospital to meet and speak with Baystate Health Board of Trustees member Timothy Farrell at work at 525 Bernardston Road in Greenfield. Nurses and supporters will request a meeting with Farrell to urge him to ensure good faith bargaining.
12 p.m. Tuesday, June 27: Nurses and community supporters will gather at the Greenfield Town Common to rally for a fair contract and share their message with the public.
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 28: Baystate’s lock out is scheduled to end. Nurses scheduled to work will enter the hospital at 164 High St. accompanied by their fellow nurses and community supporters.
Hundreds of Nurse Shifts Left Vacant on BFMC Schedule Shows Why RNs Prepared to Strike
Even as nurses prepared to strike in protest of Baystate’s failure to address RN workload and staffing problems, the hospital continued its practice of scrambling to provide adequate nursing care by leaving hundreds of RN shifts vacant on its schedule.
Over 42 days in just one hospital unit, Baystate managers left 229 nurse shifts unfilled. These vacant shifts were on a medical-surgical schedule issued by the hospital on June 16 that covers six weeks. This is an ongoing problem at BFMC. On another six-week schedule from the same unit, covering February 26 to April 8, the hospital left 179 nurse shifts unfilled.
“This problem speaks to the core of why nurses are prepared to strike for one day,” said Jillian Cycz, RN and junior co-chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee who works on the medical-surgical unit. “The hospital is scrambling to try and fill many open shifts, or is leaving them unfilled, to the detriment of patient care. Baystate forces unsafe patient assignments and unsafe working conditions on nurses and management just won’t bargain over our core issues. We cannot provide the high quality care our patients deserve when we have too many patients at one time, are fatigued and undernourished because we must work through our breaks, and are required to stay beyond our scheduled shifts in violation of state law.”
As a result of these unfilled shifts, nurses are working endless additional shifts usually without rest. In fact, 3,940 times in the past 12 months nurses had to work for longer than 12 hours because there was no one to relieve them. The longest shift was 17.5 hours. It is illegal in Massachusetts for an RN to ever work more than 16 hours – even during a state of emergency. A May 15 letter from the MNA committee members to the hospital’s president details the abusiveness of the never ending shifts.
“We are working while exhausted…” the MNA BFMC Committee wrote in a May 15 letter to BFMC President Cindy Russo. “Among our most important issues in negotiations for which a long-term solution is urgently needed is understaffing that forces RNs and others to work overtime and extra shifts without rest…Because there is not enough staff, and we are forced to pick up additional shift after shift after shift and can’t go home at the end of our shifts. This is antithetical to the safe patient care studies management was (accurately) citing to us two years ago.”
Core Outstanding RN Issues
- Baystate management refuses to bargain over RN workload and staffing, including our call for an increase in RN staffing at the hospital to ensure safe patient assignments and an end to unwanted overtime, increased weekend work and unscheduled shifts.
- When nurses have too many patients to care for at one time, they cannot be there when patients need them. When nurses are forced to work extra hours or extra entire shifts, simply because the hospital refuses to hire enough staff to cover all shifts, nurses are exhausted and more prone to make errors. Nurses can’t tell their families when they’ll be home, or when they’ll have a day off.
- On top of that, Baystate is demanding to cut holidays, sick days and vacation time.
- Nurses are seeking to negotiate decent and affordable health insurance benefits, after Baystate eliminated two health insurance plans in the past year and a half, leaving substandard plans in place. Baystate also refuses to bargain over this issue.
On March 15 BFMC RNS voted, by a margin of 93%, to authorize their elected bargaining committee to call a strike if and when they see fit to do so. To date, the parties have held more than 20 bargaining sessions, many of which with a federal mediator. BFMC nurses have filed 13 unfair labor practice charges against Baystate for, among other reasons, failing to bargain in good faith over mandatory subjects of bargaining such as nurse workload and health insurance.
Contact Joe Markman at 781-571-8175 or email@example.com for copies of the NLRB charges nurses have filed against Baystate, unsafe scheduling documentation, reports sent to the DPH showing instances of mandatory overtime (which is unlawful under Mass law) or dozens of text messages from BFMC management requesting nurses come to work when they were scheduled to be off because of staffing shortages.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.