News & Events

MNA Nurses and Healthcare Professionals at Morton Hospital and Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Ratify New Contracts with Steward Healthcare Benefitting Patient Care, Local Communities and Frontline RNs

09.10.2020

METHUEN and TAUNTON, Mass. – Registered nurses and healthcare professionals represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association who care for patients at Steward Healthcare’s Morton Hospital and Steward Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack recently voted to ratify agreements with Steward which will improve patient care and working conditions at their hospitals while also valuing nurses for their hard work and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 370 MNA nurses and healthcare professionals of Morton Hospital in Taunton voted last week to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement – covering the period Jan. 1, 2020 to Oct. 31, 2021 – reached with Steward management on July 27 after eight months of bargaining.

Among other provisions, the new Morton MNA contract includes enhancements to a guaranteed pension consisting of a 5% employer contribution calculated on wages up to 40 hours in a week with no employee match requirement. Morton nurses and healthcare professionals will also receive significant wage increases and they earned new workplace rights and protections.

“Morton Hospital was designated a COVID-19 hospital during the height of the pandemic earlier this year, and our nurses and healthcare professionals have been putting everything into caring for patients and trying to keep our community safe,” said Jacqui Fitts, RN, MNA’s elected chair at Morton Hospital. “We are proud to have negotiated such a strong agreement which will position Morton to attract and keep the nurses and healthcare professionals we need to provide safe, high-quality patient care at all times.”

The 140 MNA nurses of Steward Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack in Haverhill voted last month to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement – covering the period Nov. 2, 2019 to Nov. 1, 2022 – reached with Steward management on July 22 after 10 months of bargaining.

Holy Family nurses achieved significant gains in safe staffing to improve patient care conditions, substantial wage increases to make the hospital more competitive with similar employers, pension enhancements, a new holiday, increased pay differentials and additional workplace rights language, among other provisions.

The settlement is largely similar to that negotiated in January between the 400 MNA-represented RNs and Steward Healthcare at the sister hospital, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.

“First of all, I would like to thank my colleagues and Steward leadership for giving our hospital a new look on staffing,” said Val Roderick, RN co-chair of Holy Family Hospital Haverhill. “This allows our nursing teams to continue to provide the highest quality of care, compassion, and mercy for the sick and suffering. Whether we hold that hand as they take the first step or sit quietly as they weep about their loss of independence, we are doing what we do best – ‘being a nurse.’”

“Our new contract represents a huge boost to our ability to care for patients safely and effectively and improves the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain nurses,” said Ann Rushworth, RN 4W, Bargaining Committee Member. “We have put our lives and the health of our families on the line this year to provide patient care through unprecedented challenges and we are pleased to secure an agreement that values our dedication.”

Morton Hospital and Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack New Contract Summaries

Safe Staffing for Improved Patient Care

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack

  • Nurses won significant improvements in the enforceable staffing grids, in addition to the below enhancements.
  • “The Hospital will not call off or cancel or offer cancellation to an RN when the unit on which the RN works is short one or more CNA or MHC or Unit Secretary on a given shift on the same unit.”
  • “If at any census and shift the required # of CNAs or MHCs is not met, with the prior approval of the supervisor or department management, which will not be unreasonably denied, an RN on a unit may reach out to other RNs to cover for the CNA or MHC when the unit on which the RN and CNA/MHCs work is short.”
  • At all times during the new contract, management “shall post and recruit to fill positions that are necessary for the Hospital to meet its contractual obligations.” This means if management posts schedules with holes, they have to post and recruit. If management is not meeting the staffing grids because of routine sick calls or leave of absence, then management has to post and recruit.
  • Hospital unit 4W will have one daytime grid. The day, evening and night grids contain improvements.
  • The post-anesthesia care unit (PACU): In addition to the current single RN who is on call beginning at about 4:30 p.m. M-F, there will be a 2nd RN on call beginning on or about 4:30 p.m. M-F (except on days when the operating room is closed). The 2nd on-call RN will be called in if there is a 2nd (or more) patient in PACU at 4:30 p.m.
  • An extra shift bonus: If the final schedule has holes, staff who volunteer to pick up extra shifts will make an additional $12 per hour.

Morton Hospital

The parties preserved the current enforceable staffing grids for each department and repeated the written commitment in the new contract that management “shall post and make reasonable efforts to recruit to fill such positions that are necessary to meet the Hospital’s contractual obligations.

Wages and Differentials

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack

  • 9.25% wage increase over 3 years for nurses on the wage scale, in addition to 4% step increases annually for nurses as they gain years of experience.
  • 10.75% wage increase over 3 years for nurses at the top of the wage scale. Nurses at the top of scale will receive additional retroactive pay as well.
  • Nurses on night shift will receive a differential improved to $8 per hour by the end of the contract. This differential will be effective three hours into a shift now rather than four hours.
  • Nurses precepting less experienced nurses will receive a $2 per hour differential, up from $1. Also, management will endeavor not to assign preceptor nurses a charge nurse role, allowing them to better educate their preceptee.
  • A new $7 per hour differential for nurses who float across the Methuen and Andover campuses.
  • A new $3 per hour differential for nurses who float inside the hospital.
  • On-call rate increases to $5.75 by the end of the contract.
  • Case managers will now be paid time-and-a-half for shifts beyond 40 hours per week.
  • Per diems will receive an extra $2, $3 or $4 per hour to voluntarily increase monthly commitments, depending on the level.

Morton Hospital

  • 4% wage increase from now through the next 12 months for nurses and healthcare professionals on the step scale, in addition to 4.5% step increases annually for nurses and healthcare professionals as they gain years of experience.
  • 5.5% wage increase for nurses and healthcare professionals at the top of the scale over the life of the contract.
  • Pharmacists will no longer be hired below step 4 on the wage scale.

Pension

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack

  • Many nurses’ pension accounts will receive a back contribution boosting their pension value. 
  • Eliminates the delay in starting contributions. 
  • Employer contributes 5% on top of your wages up to 40 hrs/week. The whole contribution is from the employer. There is no employee match.
  • Everyone gets past service credit toward vesting.
  • Future employees will receive pension benefits back dated to their first day.

Morton Hospital

  • Many nurses’ and healthcare professionals’ pension accounts will receive a back contribution boosting their pension value. 
  • Eliminates the delay in starting contributions. 
  • Employer contributes 5% on top of your wages up to 40 hrs/week. The whole contribution is from the employer. There is no employee match.
  • Future employees will receive pension benefits back dated to their first day.

Health and Dental Insurance

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack

  • The percentage rates nurses pay will stay the same in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and the benefits stay the same. For 2023, nurses will negotiate the rates together with their MNA Steward co-workers from Carney, Good Samaritan, HFH Methuen, Nashoba Valley, Norwood, and St Elizabeth’s.

Workplace Rights and Protections

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack

  • Improvements to sick leave protections.
  • Increased the number of nurses who can participate in Labor-Management meetings.
  • Reduced barriers for nurses bidding for job vacancies.

Morton Hospital

  • New language helping to expedite the grievance process for job protection and class action grievances so nurses can enforce their hard-fought contract provisions.
  • If the employer places someone on administrative leave, the employer will now be obligated to tell them the reason within 48 hours. This is critical because nurses and healthcare professionals should know what the concern is before the employer suspends someone.
  • Removed a limit on the number of union representatives and replaced it with language simply requires nurses to notify the employer who our representatives are.
  • Added language explicitly recognizing the state law banning mandatory overtime for nurses.

Miscellaneous

Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack

  • Added Veterans Day as a paid holiday.
  • Added a new vacation cash-out option enabling nurses to cash out up to 80 hours per year. This is significant especially during the ongoing pandemic in which nurses are often unable to take vacation time or travel out of state.
  • Eased previously restrictive rules on access to up to $3,000 in tuition reimbursement.

Morton Hospital

  • Added grandchildren to list of immediate family for bereavement leave.
  • Expanded the contract protections for prohibiting discrimination under state and federal laws to include gender identity, military status, and sexual orientation. If an employee feels the employer is violating their rights under current discrimination laws and the MNA contract, the employee can now choose between filing a grievance and pursuing it through the grievance arbitration process or filing a charge with the relevant state, or federal agency.
  • Clarified that if a nurse works through a meal break that period of work counts toward accrued hours for purposes of overtime.

 

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