RNs at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Plymouth Ratify New, Three-Year Contract Agreement
The 412 registered nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Plymouth (BIDP) who are unionized with the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) voted to ratify their recently-settled tentative contract agreement. The nurse’s campaign to win a fair contract that included enhanced nurse staffing and workplace benefits was nearly a year in the making, and it was bolstered by a far-reaching community coalition that supported the BIDP caregivers. Highlights of the agreement include:
- A commitment by hospital administration to make every effort to ensure that as of Sept. 8, 2021, “charge nurses” will not carry a patient assignment in the emergency department, the operating room, and the post-anesthesia care unit. On Sept. 1, 2022, this new standard will roll out elsewhere in the hospital.
A charge nurse is an RN responsible for managing the nursing responsibilities in a specific hospital unit during a particular shift. They play a crucial role in supporting other nurses as they care for patients, especially during times of crisis or high census. Until this contract, BIDP charge nurses were required to carry a patient assignment, which greatly limited their ability to support their colleagues, manage the units, and be a resource during emergencies.
- The hospital’s “RN float pool” will always include at least 13 full-time equivalents. A nursing float pool is a group of nurses hired and trained to work in different units and move about the hospital to care for various patients, making them an essential piece of the nurse-staffing puzzle.
- A guarantee that the current number of patients-to-nurses will not be increased, and a commitment from management to make feasible efforts to meet those documented staffing plans.
Compensation and Benefits
- An increase in wages by 8 percent over the next three years, plus the addition of new steps.
- Increase in the charge nurse differential to $3 per hour, plus increases in other key differentials.
- Preservation of the medical insurance plan, with no increase in co-pays or deductibles for the contract’s duration.
- Improved short and long-term disability, life insurance, and other benefits.
In February of 2021, as the nurses’ fight for a fair and equitable contract went public, a community coalition dedicated to supporting the RNs and keeping BIDP patients safe was launched in the greater Plymouth area. The coalition’s Facebook page quickly attracted an audience of more than 1,600 members. Lawn signs followed, as did a series of “honk and wave” rallies. Soon after, a public petition was launched calling on the hospital to accept the nurses’ proposals to improve the safety and quality of patient care at BIDP.
At each event and rally, local elected leaders joined the nurses and publicly called on the hospital to enhance staffing and working conditions to improve the recruitment and retention of nurses.
“We were not asking for anything impossible during these contract talks,” said Janet DeMoranville, a nurse in the hospital’s BirthPlace. “We wanted basic staffing improvements that would enable us to better care for our patients and some enhancements to working conditions that would improve nurse recruitment and retention. This newly ratified contract does just that.”
“Helen Keller said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,’” added Kristina Kenyon, RN and bargaining unit co-chairperson, “and we are a living example of that. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who supported us in this fight — from patients and their families to community supporters and local elected leaders. Thank you!”