WESTFIELD and GREENFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center and Baystate Noble Hospital, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted in recent days to reject management’s “best and final” contract proposals that do not include fair agreements on safe nurse staffing levels to protect patient care and quality, affordable health insurance.
Baystate Noble Hospital nurses also voted to authorize a one-day strike. No strike date has been scheduled. This vote gives the Noble MNA Bargaining Committee authorization to call a one-day strike if and when the nurses’ bargaining committee deems it is necessary. If the committee issues its official notice to strike, there will be at least 10 days before nurses go out on strike for one day.
“Noble Hospital nurses are standing up together for our patients and ourselves because it is clear Baystate executives do not want a fair compromise,” said Paul Dubin, RN Co-Chair of the Noble MNA Bargaining Committee. “We have been trying to negotiate over nurse staffing and patient care conditions and quality health insurance for 14 months. Recently our local management team appeared to lose all power to negotiate. Instead Baystate executives are refusing to bargain in good faith over our key issues.”
Noble nurses voted to authorize a one-day strike and reject management’s “best and final” offer on August 8. BFMC nurses voted to reject management’s “best and final” offer on August 15. A “best and final” proposal is a term used in negotiations by employers to say that they are done bargaining and will entertain no further proposals. The MNA attempted to provide a comprehensive counter proposal to keep negotiations going on the same day. Management responded without considering the proposal by re-stating that they would not entertain new proposals except a proposal to accept management’s “final” offer. The MNA filed charges with the National labor Relations Board citing management’s refusal to bargain over workload, patient care issues or healthcare as categories and on what the MNA considers to be their unlawfully moving backwards in their “Final” offer.
Subsequent to the vote by Baystate Noble RNs, management agreed to return to bargaining.
Baystate gave its “best and final” to BFMC nurses on July 21. That day BFMC nurses spent hours revising proposals, including on their key issue of improving nurse workload and staffing to protect patient care. A few minutes after providing management with their revised proposal, they flatly rejected it and gave nurses a pre-printed “best and final offer.”
“It is clear to us Baystate management did not come to actually negotiate on July 21,” said Donna Stern, RN and Senior Co-Chair of the BFMC MNA Bargaining Committee. Our proposal was a significant movement toward a fair agreement from our previous proposal.”
“Baystate has been refusing to bargain over our core issues of safe nurse staffing, workload and health insurance,” Stern said. “We are trying hard to negotiate a fair contract that protects patients and ensures quality of life and working conditions. Management at Baystate Franklin has no power to negotiate. Instead, executives from Baystate’s corporate offices in Springfield are making decisions about our nurses, our patients and our hospital.”
Noble nurses joined Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and community supporters on August 7 at a picket in front of Baystate Health HQ in Springfield. Baystate MNA nurses are united for safe patient care and fair treatment of nurses. BFMC nurses held a one-day strike in June fighting for these key issues. Nurses at both hospitals have held informational pickets and rallies with community supporters.
Noble nurses have been trying for more than a year and a half to negotiate a fair contract and BFMC nurses have been attempting the same for nearly 10 months. Noble nurses began bargaining in February 2016 and BFMC nurses in November 2016. A federal mediator is involved in both negotiations. The next Noble negotiation session is scheduled for August 24. No date has been set for the next BFMC session.
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.