Berkshire Medical Center Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement that Improves Staffing and Patient Care and Averts One-Day Strike
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Berkshire Medical Center, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, reached a tentative agreement on Thursday, June 14 that marks a huge success for patients, nurses and the community by improving staffing and patient care conditions.
The tentative agreement, which must be ratified by a vote of the 800 BMC nurses, averts a one-day strike scheduled for Monday, June 18. Nurses reached agreement with the hospital late Thursday night following three days of marathon bargaining sessions and a 22-month effort that brought together nurses and community members to make a positive impact on patient care and the treatments of RNs.
“We are incredibly proud of this agreement that reflects our priority of improving nurse staffing and patient care,” said Alex Neary, RN and Co-Chair of the BMC RN Bargaining Unit. “Berkshire Medical Center nurses care deeply about our patients and our community. We owe our success in reaching this agreement to powerful unity among nurses and our community.”
Highlights of the Agreement
- Covers the period of Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2021
- Language that will help keep charge nurses free to fulfill the role of the charge nurse in order to ensure safe patient care on their units.
- The hospital will add additional nursing resources (a total of 9.5 full-time equivalent positions) to four areas: Behavioral health units (including for emergency department mental health boarders); mother baby unit/pediatrics; specialty (PACU, critical care, step-down, emergency department); and medical-surgical units. These nurses will not be included in the staffing grids and will not be pre-assigned prior to their shift.
- The hospital agrees not to diminish the current staffing grids as they relate to RNs.
- The hospital agrees to post and recruit positions when a scheduled position in a unit and shift is consistently unfilled for four or more consecutive schedule postings, unless the unfilled position is the result of a planned or unplanned leave of absence or the position is already posted.
- Wages: Improvements which will help recruit, retain and better compensate caregivers
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.