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As Pandemic Rages On, Nurses at Lawrence General Hospital File Charge with NLRB Aimed at Correcting Management’s Failure to Bargain in Good Faith During Contract Talks

The five hundred registered nurses working at Lawrence General Hospital, and who are unionized with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, today filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, citing the hospital’s failure to negotiate in good faith during the current contract talks between the union and management.

Negotiating since September, the nurses are facing roadblocks from management on several matters that are not complex or controversial subjects of bargaining, but rather fundamental issues that are legally deemed “mandatory subjects of bargaining,” including:

  • Failure to provide information: The nurses have asked for basic background information on health insurance and staffing grids, which management has outright refused to provide. The MNA charges this violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
  • Failure to negotiate the working conditions of a new step-down unit: The hospital is closing some ICU beds and moving them to a new “intermediate care unit.” The hospital refuses to negotiate with the nurses over this unit’s staffing and working conditions, which is required by law. 

“Sometimes, in bargaining, the union and management hit a roadblock over a really complicated issue,” said Laurie Spheekas, RN and chairperson of the nurses’ bargaining unit. “These are not complicated issues. They are basic issues that are protected by the NLRA.”

“We are confident that the National Labor Relations Board will side with us,” added Spheekas. “In the meantime, we have to deal with a management team that wants to spend its time and energy creating controversy over something completely noncontroversial.”

Spheekas commented that the nurses are trying hard to work with management, adding that they are not asking for anything excessive or complex. “We have a pandemic to deal with, and the Omicron variant is looming,” she added. “Management has to stop using these illegal tactics. It is an unnecessary distraction at a time when the people of greater Lawrence are relying on us. We have a great staff of nurses who are professionals and dedicated to the greater Lawrence community. The goal is to ensure the hospital negotiates in good faith a new contract which retains these nurses so we can continue to provide the best quality care to our patients.”