BOSTON — The MNA-nurse bargaining committee at Tufts Medical Center, on behalf of their 1,200 members, reached a tentative agreement with hospital management on Monday evening Dec.18 that addresses all of their outstanding issues, including staffing, wages, and pension. The tentative agreement is slated to run through September of 2021.
The agreement came at approximately 5 p.m., after a day-long session that was held at Mayor Marty Walsh’s office at Boston City Hall. Mayor Walsh, who contacted both the nurses and Tufts management on Friday, Dec. 15, offered both his office space and mediation skills in an effort to help the parties reach a fair settlement.
Highlights of the tentative agreement include:
- Language guaranteeing that key units/floors will have a charge nurse without an initial patient assignment.
- Language that creates and guarantees that a team of IV/vascular access RNs and other personnel will be scheduled 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Language guaranteeing that Clinical Resource Nurses and/or properly trained and oriented expert RNs will be on site and assigned to each shift 24/7 to help with emergencies and codes, as well as provide clinical support for patient care.
- A new 5 percent step added to the top of the wage scale (phased in over the length of the contract).
- Across-the-board increases totaling 6 percent (phased in over the length of the contract).
- Agreement on the pension. Nurses participating in the existing defined benefit (DB) pension plan will see the plan frozen. The hospital will add three years of service to the DB plans of these same nurses upon the freezing of the plan. From there, these same nurses will transition to the defined contribution plan (DC); they will receive an improved match that is dependent upon their own personal contribution rate (up to 4 percent). For nurses who have only been participating in the DC they will also see an improved match from the hospital (up to 4 percent depending on years of service).
“We are proud to share the news of this tentative agreement not only with our members,” said Barbara Tiller, RN and bargaining unit co-chair, “but with the public too. They supported us throughout our 20 months of negotiations — during our talks, during our two informational pickets, and during our strike.”
“This contract is good for patients, it is good for nurses, and it is good for Tufts,” added Mary Cornacchia, RN and bargaining unit co-chair. “With these additional resources that the union negotiated in place, RNs will come and stay at Tufts because they will be able to provide our patients with the care they deserve.”
The Tufts RNs had been in negotiations for a new contract for nearly 20 months; their contract expired in July of 2016. They held 47 sessions in total before reaching this evening’s tentative agreement. They also held two informational pickets, and a historic one-day strike in July that was followed by a four-day lockout.
The nurses will vote to ratify the tentative agreement on January 3, 2018. If a majority of the voting nurse members vote “yes” the tentative agreement will become the nurses’ official, formal contract. The MNA bargaining committee that negotiated the tentative agreement is recommending members vote yes on January 3, 2018.