News & Events

Fight for Safe Staffing with Berkshire Medical Center Nurses


The top issue for nurses during Berkshire Medical Center contract negotiations is safe staffing that protects high quality patient care

  • This means having enough registered nurses and other staff to ensure safe patient assignments. When nurses have too many patients at one time, patient care suffers.
  • Having too many patients to care for at one time makes it very difficult for nurses to give the same high-quality care to each patient. For example: It is difficult to get patients medications on time, discharge patients efficiently, admit them every time they need a bed, and provide enough education so they and their families know how to take care of themselves when they go home.
  • Ideally, BMC would make safe staffing its top priority. But despite the hospital’s public statements, nurses see every day that the hospital administration is failing to prioritize safe staffing. BMC will not even agree to modest staffing improvements in the RN contract.

Another high priority is affordable, quality health insurance.

  • Nurses already pay more than doctors and hospital executives for their health insurance – 40 to 70 percent more for nurses in family plans.
  • BMC wants nurses to pay even more, to the extent that even after a small pay raise, many nurses would be making less than they are today because the cost of their health insurance will increase so much.Nurses rejected management’s “best and final” offer by 82% on May 31
  • Nurses take their role as patient advocates seriously and cannot agree to a contract that ignores patient safety.
  • This overwhelming vote to reject the contract was historic in terms of the number of nurses who turned out to vote and the number who voted to reject, sending a clear message that BMC nurses are united for safe patient care.

BMC financials

  • In 2015 (most recent tax data available), BMC made a profit of $46.4 million, with a profit margin of 10.2% (compared with the state average of 3.7%). Between 2011 and 2015, the hospital made a profit of $181 million.
  • In 2015, David Phelps made $755K. In 2013, on top of his salary of $579,649, BMC paid $1,878,328 toward Phelps’ retirement benefits

Please call Berkshire Health CEO David Phelps at 413-447-2750 and ask him to make sure we all have safe staffing at BMC.