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Nurses hold labor rally, patient safety vigil

  • City Councilor Doug Mayo speaks at a patient safety vigil the Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses held ahead of their planned one-day strike April 11. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution’s David Cohen, right, at Thursday’s nurses’ rally. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Candidate for the 1st Franklin District seat Francia Wisnewski signs a petition at a patient safety vigil the Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses held ahead of their planned one-day strike April 11. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Candidate for the 1st Franklin District seat Casey Pease records video on his phone while at a patient safety vigil the Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses held ahead of their planned one-day strike April 11. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • The new sign debuted at a patient safety vigil the Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses held ahead of their planned one-day strike April 11. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—



Recorder Staff
Thursday, April 05, 2018

GREENFIELD — City Councilor Doug Mayo started out his speech, “Some of you may only recognize me horizontally.”

Mayo, who is recovering from broken ribs after being struck by a vehicle last week, was one of several who spoke at a vigil for patient safety that Baystate Franklin nurses held Thursday evening at the Town Common, ahead of their planned one-day strike Wednesday.

He told the crowd of a few dozen, with cars honking as they passed by, that it was thanks to the nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center that he has been able to recover from this accident — and noting how important it is for them to be at the hospital.

Mayo, alongside fellow City Councilor Sheila Gilmour spoke at the vigil that acted as a rally for the nurses before their strike Wednesday, April 11 in the nearly year and a half labor dispute with the administration at Baystate.

“You hear all of those cars out there? I don’t think they’re telling us to go home,” Gilmour told the collection of nurses, union supporters and residents, as cars honked in likely solidarity with the Greenfield nurses who have been rallying over concerns of adequate staffing and insurance plans.

“It’s beyond reasonable that we have to continue to battle for what’s reasonable and that’s what we will continue to do if they don’t come to the table,” Donna Stern, head of the local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said at the patient safety vigil.

Currently the nurses said there are no negotiations planned before the strike that could potentially call it off. In late February a planned strike by the nurses was called off when they agreed to bargain. The nurses said since then they have come closer to agreeing on health insurance plans, but that and the staffing issues remain their chief concerns.

The hospital was not available for comment for this story.

At the vigil Thursday, the nurses passed out flyers with the union logo indicating their planned action ahead of the strike and lockout.

In the flyer the nurses handed out, it noted: a rally in front of the hospital April 10 in anticipation of the lockout; a strike starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday with a rallies at noon and 5 p.m.; a rally Thursday and a march to local trustee’s offices; a rally Friday as they return to work Friday, and delivering a petition to Baystate Health in Springfield and to trustees.

Nurses, led by Stern and Karen “Rudy” Renaud, who works for the union but is also the City Council president, collected signatures for a petition to bring attention to the nurses concerns to the trustees.

At the vigil, which began with a prayer and was held in the spirit of patient safety, members of the local political scene were present. In addition to Mayo and Gilmour, fellow newly elected City Councilors Tim Dolan and Otis Wheeler attended.

Candidates for the 1st Franklin District seat, Francia Wisnewski and Casey Pease rallied too. Wisnewski is chairwoman of the Hampshire and Franklin Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, a member of the Montague Town Meeting and the Montague Democratic Committee. Pease is chairman of the Worthington Democratic Town Committee, and was the youngest paid staff member on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.The seat will be vacated by Rep. Stephen Kulik after he announced he will not run for reelection.

Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution leader David Cohen also spoke, after being introduced by Renaud as one of the people who helped to swing the City Council left after the local group backed progressive candidates in November’s election.

Speaking about a key tenant of his group, to keep organizations in the hands of the people, Cohen said about Baystate Health, “We have to take back the powers of those corporations.”