NARH Nurses Schedule Strike Vote
Nurses Fighting to Maintain the High Quality of Health Care
The Registered Nurses of North Adams Regional Hospital have scheduled a strike vote. Negotiations, which began in January have not been going well. A majority of the nurses met last week to discuss the situation and overwhelmingly said they feel it is time for a strike vote. “We have been meeting for months and the one constant has been the hospital sticking to the large amounts of takeaways they put on the table at the beginning. Our members have been clear that they could not work under these proposals. They are also united about the terrible effect these takeaways will have on the quality of patient care they are able to deliver,” said MNA Chairperson Ruth O’Hearn, RN.
Management has proposals that would ruin the quality of life for the nurses. They want the right to cancel or add shifts at a moments notice. They want to change scheduled hours of work without notice or discussion and they want to mandate nurses to do overtime even if they are exhausted or ill. “We now have very important language that allows nurses to decline overtime if they feel they are too tired or ill to deliver quality care to their patients. It is just wrong to think that some management member can decide whether I am able to care for my patients,” said unit Co-Chair Mary McConnell, RN.
The bargaining unit has scheduled two events around the strike vote. First they will hold a series of informational meetings covering all the issues important to nurses considering a strike. Experts will cover health insurance, unemployment insurance, seeking temporary employment, writing resumes, and how the nurses will be structured and what their responsibilities will be during a strike. A few days later, on July 19 the nurses will vote with the polls open for ten hours.
The nurses didn’t want it to come to this according to O’Hearn, “As the hospital continues to claim financial difficulty, we really don’t understand why they are sticking to these disastrous takeaways. The administration should have come to us as partners; instead they seem to look at us as enemies. Our membership has told us they are at the end of the line and it is time to take a strike vote.”
The MNA represents 106 nurses at North Adams Regional Hospital. They have had a negotiated contract since 1978.