Berkshire Medical Center nurses, community members, and union supporters will join Berkshire VNA clinicians in calling on BHS to agree to a wage step scale and realistic productivity standards
PITTSFIELD, Mass. –Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association (BVNA) nurses and healthcare professionals, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), will hold an informational picket on Monday, December 4. BVNA clinicians will join with their colleagues at Berkshire Medical Center and supporters from across Berkshire County to protest Berkshire Health Systems’ (BHS) refusal to agree to a fair contract with a wage step scale and realistic productivity standards.
Informational Picket Info
Date: Monday, December 4, 2023
Time: 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: Outside Berkshire Medical Center at742 North St., Pittsfield
Details: The picket will include a food truck with hot chocolate and coffee, as well as holiday-themed picket signs, lights, and the Grinch himself.
The picket is the latest in a series of actions BVNA nurses and healthcare professionals have taken as they negotiate their first union contract. In October, the clinicians delivered a petition to BHS CEO Darlene M. Rodowicz emphasizing the fact that the BVNA has experienced a significant loss of permanent staff since at least December 2021, destabilizing homecare service access and posing a serious risk to continuity of patient care. To stem the flood of staff departures and ensure access to high-quality homecare throughout Berkshire County, BVNA nurses and healthcare professionals are seeking:
- A wage step scale of the kind that MNA-represented nurses and health professionals and other union members have in contracts throughout the Commonwealth, including at BHS-owned Berkshire Medical Center. A wage scale is a basic worker right that replaces secrecy and favoritism with transparency and fairness.
- Productivity language that reflects the reality of homecare today and allows BVNA clinicians to spend an appropriate amount of time providing patient care and support and documenting. Patients are being discharged from the hospital faster and with more medical complications.
Click here for more details about BVNA staffing levels, turnover, and why clinicians are leaving.
In May, BVNA nurses and healthcare professionals held a virtual community forum on the changing state of home care. In April, they delivered a petition signed by community members urging BHS to move quickly to settle a fair contract.
BVNA registered nurses, and physical, occupational and speech therapists joined MNA in December 2021 following an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Berkshire VNA is owned by Berkshire Health Systems, which also owns Berkshire Medical Center where the MNA represents approximately 900 registered nurses.
The medical needs of Berkshire VNA patients are varied and complex and may include, among other things, post-surgical conditions such as total hip or total knee replacements; stroke; Parkinson’s Disease; Multiple Sclerosis; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); cardiopulmonary conditions; amputations; and post-trauma care (breaks, fractures).
In recent years, many hospital-based services for patients have shifted to in-home services, making VNAs and their caregivers an essential and ever-expanding part of the healthcare system. Hospitals now move patients back home faster than before as doing so reduces costs and opens in-hospital beds. This has led to a dramatic increase in the size of the region’s at-home patient population as well as in the complexity of those patients.
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.