Registered nurses and nurse practitioners at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Merrimack Valley secured a contract after unionizing to help retain a strong workforce and high-quality cancer care for local patients
METHUEN, Mass. – Registered nurses and nurse practitioners at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Merrimack Valley (DFCI – MV), represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), voted on Wednesday, January 24 to ratify a first MNA contract that will help nurses continue to provide the high-quality cancer care that patients in Merrimack Valley need and deserve.
The DFCI – MV nurses voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to ratify an agreement reached earlier this month that provides nurses with strong wage increases to help with recruitment and retention, and benefits that cannot be changed during the life of the contract. Those two contract areas were critical going into the nurses’ one-day strike on September 27, which was followed by a two-day lockout imposed by DFCI.
“Winning this strong MNA contract shows what nurses are capable of when we work together on behalf of our patients and professional practice,” said Kate Mitchell, FNP-BC, AOCNP at DFCI – MV. “We are excited to use our contract to help keep nurses at Dana-Farber Merrimack Valley so we can continue to provide high-quality cancer care to local patients.”
“Community support was critical to our success in negotiating a union contract that makes significant improvements over our previous working environment,” said Kerrin Albert, Infusion RN at DFCI – MV. “When we hit the strike line and were locked out, our solidarity as nurses was boosted by many patients, residents, elected officials, and union allies. We want to thank all of them for their amazing support.”
“Despite hard-fought negotiations, we persisted and earned a powerful tool for any nurse trying to advocate for their patients – a union contract,” said Errin D’Arcangelo, Oncology Nurse Navigator at DFCI – MV. “While our focus during the strike was competitive pay and secure benefits, our contract also gives us a wide range of legally enforceable rights that will make Dana-Farber Merrimack Valley a place where nurses want to come and stay long-term.”
MNA Contract Highlights
- Duration: The contract begins July 1, 2023, and ends June 30, 2026.
- Wage Step Scale: A wage step scale that provides fair and transparent pay increases for nurses as they gain years of experience at DFCI – MV. The scale will feature 4% increases between steps.
- Ratification Bonus and Retro Pay: Nurses will receive a $3,000 ratification bonus as well as retroactive pay increases back to July 1, 2023.
- Competitive Pay: Nurses will receive a series of across-the-board raises (ATB) in addition to the wage step scale to help keep nurse pay competitive and enable DFCI – MV to recruit and retain nurses. The nurses will receive a 3.5% ATB in July 2024 and 3% ATB in July 2025. DFCI will also add a new top step over two years to the scale.
- Secured Benefits: The contract protects various benefits, such as retirement security, time off, holidays, health insurance, etc. from being changed during the contract without agreement by the nurses.
- Just Cause: This is a well-established and universally recognized standard in labor law providing nurses protection against arbitrary or unfair discipline. This helps ensure that nurses can advocate for patients and colleagues without fear of retaliation.
- Grievance and Arbitration: These clauses — part of all MNA contracts — are a crucial tool for addressing and rectifying violations of the contract.
DFCI – Merrimack Valley opened in 2020 with 24 exam rooms and 32 infusion bays. The location offers expanded cancer and blood disorder care and outpatient services for adult patients in the region. DFCI – MV nurses voted in June and July 2022 to form a union and join the MNA in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The MNA also represents approximately 600 nurses at the DFCI main campus in Boston under a separate contract.
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.