News & Events

MNA Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Respond to Mass General Brigham Plan to Freeze Pay and Retirement During Global Pandemic

CANTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Nurses Association has released the following statement in response to Mass General Brigham’s June 17, 2020 announcement about staff salary and retirement freezes.

“Nurses and other healthcare professionals caring for patients in Mass General Brigham hospitals across Massachusetts along with fellow hospital workers have performed an absolutely critical role in fighting COVID-19,” said RN and MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams. “These frontline caregivers have risked their lives and the health of their families. They have spent countless hours at the bedside of very ill and dying patients, caring for them in their final days and overcoming tremendous barriers to connect families to their loved ones in the most difficult circumstances.

“Mass General Brigham’s decision to make it harder for nurses and other caregivers to support their families during an ongoing pandemic and economic catastrophe is completely heartless. Only days ago, MGB was known as Partners Healthcare. This change in name reflects an expensive shift in branding but does not alter the hospital system’s size and financial might.  According to the Boston Globe, MGB’s branding exercise could cost the system $100 million. This unfortunately signals its primary focus on business image and profits, not patients.

“MGB is the largest healthcare system and employer in New England. With annual revenues of $14 billion, MGB is consistently the most profitable healthcare system in Massachusetts. In the last fiscal year, MGB earned $485 million in income from operations – the system’s most profitable year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MGB has received $1 billion in accelerated Medicare payments and $314 million in grants from a federal relief program. The system reported having more than $230 million in cash on hand during the first quarter.

“MGB’s financial priorities have long been skewed away from properly supporting frontline staff and providing optimal conditions for patient care. On many occasions, MGB leadership has directed money toward hugely expensive expansion projects (Somerville HQ price tag of $465 million) and executive compensation rather than ensuring safe staffing in all hospital units or valuing the excellent and highly complex care nurses and other healthcare professionals provide. In 2017, the latest year with data available, Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Mass. General Hospital, and the Brigham’s president, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, each received about $2.6 million in total compensation.

“Fortunately, nurses at many MGB hospitals are unionized with the MNA. The nurses have elected MNA leadership and MGB will be obligated to work with them under federal labor law. The MNA recognizes and appreciates the exhausting and live-saving work of its members. Our nurses and healthcare professionals and fellow hospital workers have joined together over the years to negotiate fair contracts that value their efforts and set strong standards for best practices. At each of the MGB hospitals where MNA represents nurses, we will examine MGB’s financial announcement in the context of these contracts. Together we will fight for the best interests of our nurses and their ability to provide safe, high-quality care.

“Nurses and other frontline healthcare professionals have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic. They have cared for many of the most challenging patients they have ever encountered. The experience has been traumatic, and nurses have performed above and beyond. As a society, we have seen them as heroes. In reality, nurses have not received the support they need. Nurses have gone without safe PPE, without adequate sick leave, transportation, and housing. Amid all of these systemic failures, nurses have persevered and helped flatten the curve. If hospital executives turn around now and penalize the very nurses who have carried us through this pandemic, who will be there when we face the next outbreak?”

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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.