The contract agreement and ratification followed months of bargaining and a community campaign involving hundreds of local people calling on Baystate Health to prioritize nurses and patient care over profits
GREENFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted overwhelmingly on August 11 to ratify a new contract with the hospital that makes critical investments in nurses and their ability to provide safe, quality, and local patient care.
“We are proud of this agreement and what it will do to help us recruit and retain the nurses we need to provide quality patient care,” said Suzanne Love, BFMC ED nurse and MNA Bargaining Committee Co-Chair. “We fought hard together – as nurses and our community – to convince Baystate Health executives to agree to important patient care protections and competitive wage increases.”
“Our community has shown amazing support for our nurses and our contract negotiations,” said Marissa Potter, BFMC OB nurse and MNA Bargaining Committee Co-Chair. “This agreement will help us protect our ability to provide safe patient care and address staffing shortages that have caused healthcare worker burnout and moral injury.”
Contract Agreement Highlights
- The contract includes strong language protecting nurses from inappropriate floating. Nurses are specialized to certain care areas and should not be forced to care for patients independently in areas where they are not competent.
- The new language ensures the hospital makes all efforts to appropriately staff patient care areas through regular assignments.
- When this is not possible, the hospital may require floating using a specified procedure that is fair and transparent, including an inverse seniority rotation specific to this issue that safeguards newly licensed nurses.
- Nurses will be able to determine if they are competent to care for patients in the new area. If not, they will be able to be clinically supervised by a nurse competent in that area.
- Extended through the new contract is staffing language secured during previous negotiations that prohibits the hospital from diminishing RN staffing grids. This is important to maintaining a minimum level of nurse staffing in each hospital unit and providing patients with the care and attention they deserve.
- Wages: 4% across-the-board increase for all nurses (ATB) retro to January 2022; 5% ATB January 2023; 3% ATB January 2024; 3% ATB January 2025.
- Nurses on the top wage scale step will receive: a 2% bonus based on hours scheduled retro to January 2022; and a 2% bonus based on hours scheduled January 2023.
- There is a wage scale adjustment to address nurses having to wait three to five years (or in certain cases as many as 15 years) on certain wage steps for an increase.
- This has been a serious issue negatively impacting morale and nurse retention and recruitment, and we are glad to have addressed it during these talks.
- No longer will anyone have to wait 35 years to get to the top wage scale step. Now the top step will be reached in 18 years and nurses will advance a step each year.
This contract agreement is the result of tremendous unity among nurses, other hospital staff and the public. Nurses and community leaders held a virtual community forum, put up lawn signs, held pickets, and hosted a Baby Brigade before Mother’s Day and during National Nurses Week focused on community solidarity, fun and advocacy. The brigade followed delivery of a community petition in April to Baystate Health Board of Trustees Chair Robert Bacon seeking immediate action from Baystate on valuing BFMC nurses, protecting patients and keeping care local.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 25,000 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.