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Letter: Union busting

My wife is a proud member of the nurses’ union and I have spent my career in labor relations with employers throughout the Pioneer Valley. I have negotiated many union contracts as a management representative with a number of unions. There have been easy negotiations and there have been difficult ones. None of them, however, even one in particular that involved a strike, reached the level of conflict that has occurred at our local hospital. Why? Well, I can tell you there were times that I wished the union would just “go away.” Never, however, did I and my employer make a concerted, planned attempt to use the negotiations process for the purpose of union busting … and that, quite frankly, is what Baystate is up to.

The hospital can say that they have presented a wage and benefit package to the union and stick to the apparently singular issue of not paying over-time after a regular shift ,which is leading to this “impasse” (an issue that is very important to the nurses), tie it up with a nice red bow, and say that the union’s refusal to accept has led to an impasse. And, mind you, they won’t allow this Trojan horse to be submitted to arbitration. Why? Because the horse is not the issue.

So … now what? Well, the nurses will do what they have to, including a strike, filing of unfair labor practices, etc. My advice to them is stick together. You might lose this battle but there’s a war to be won. The next time you have contract negotiations with Baystate, put everything that they have taken away from you back on the table (and I have been witness to those takeaways over the years) and make sure that the war is fought on all the fronts.

And to Baystate? It is perfectly obvious that the singular nurses’ union that exists within your corporate entity does not sit well with your corporate culture and contrary to what you are trying to do, they are not going away. So…why don’t you disaffiliate with Franklin Medical Center? Perhaps Mass General or Dartmouth Hitchcock would be willing to work with this proud little hospital in Greenfield? Remember, Cooley Dickinson chose to go with Mass General instead of your presentation of the “local” choice.

You have worn out your welcome in Franklin County.



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