News & Events

New Berkshire Medical Center RN Contract Takes Effect Following Vote by Nurses to Ratify Agreement that Will Help Improve Conditions for Patients and Local Caregivers

BMC nurses joined together and with their community to successfully advocate for a contract that will help recruit and retain the nurses needed to protect and enhance the quality of patient care

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Berkshire Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted overwhelmingly on November 1 to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with the hospital that will help address staffing problems through strong wage and benefit improvements, and will add additional protections to how nurses provide care. 

“Our new MNA contract represents important progress toward addressing the increasingly critical staffing, recruitment and retention problems our nurses and patients have faced in recent years,” said Alex Neary, a critical care nurse at BMC and Co-Chair of the BMC MNA Bargaining Committee. “We are also committed as MNA nurses to enforce our contract and make sure the improvements we have secured make a real difference for our patients and in our work life.”

“We are extremely proud of all the ways BMC nurses have worked together during these negotiations to get a strong contract,” said Gerri Jakacky, a nurse who works in pre-anesthesia services at BMC and Co-Chair of the BMC MNA Bargaining Committee. “We also appreciate that the process of bargaining with BMC’s management and legal team was more respectful during this negotiation cycle. Hopefully this mutual respect will continue as we work to make nursing practices and patient care safer every day.”

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 requires that a nurse have competency in an area to which they are floated. Nurses will be able to determine if they are competent to care for patients in the new area.
  • It also prohibits nurses from floating when they are in orientation and for 12 shifts afterward.
  • Nurses must have had proper orientation to a particular unit within six months to be floated to that unit.
  • When floating does happen, the hospital must use a specified procedure that is fair and transparent, including an inverse seniority rotation specific to this issue that safeguards newly licensed nurses.
  • Added the 2W OBs and 2E Transition units to the contract language BMC nurses won in 2018 protecting RN staffing grids from diminishment. 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: 3% across-the-board increase for all nurses (ATB) retro to Sept. 30, 2021; 4.5% ATB effective Sept. 30, 2022; 3.5% ATB effective Sept. 30, 2023 and add a new top step that is 2% higher than the current; 4% ATB effective Sept. 30, 2024.
  • That totals 15% over four years in across-the-board raises in addition to existing step increases for nurses on steps and the additional 2% to the top step for nurses at the top.
  • Nurses will receive a $1,000 or $500 lump sum payment depending on their hours worked.
  • There are also increases in the contract across a range of differentials, an added allowance to utilize bereavement leave with the death of a significant others’ parent, protection against discipline for nurses who park at the hospital during non-work hours, and an expansion of a special benefit program for nurses at least 60 years of age with 30 years of bargaining unit seniority.

BMC nurses won this contract by working together as nurses and with the community. Nurses participated in member meetings, signed petitions, attended a community forum and standouts, and participated during in-person negotiations. The solidarity of MNA/BMC member nurses was essential to securing this agreement.



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 healthcare issues affecting nurses and the public.