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Nurse Negotiations

Nurses’ strike sends message without incident

GREENFIELD — A 24-hour strike of Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses got its message across without ill effect.

Although the strike went smoothly, the same can’t be said of the negotiations.

Though negotiations between the nurses and the hospital are at a standstill, both sides said that the day of the strike went well.

“It was a very good event, and I hope it turns into action on the hospital’s part,” said Charles Rasmussen, Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesman.

BFMC’s plans to staff the hospital with nurses “resulted in a day of seamless care for patients and their families,” according to a BFMC news release.

“Our nursing leaders at Baystate Franklin, working in partnership with their colleagues from the other Baystate Health hospitals and with the BFMC staff nurses who chose to cross the picket line, proved the value of our integrated health system, and demonstrated what grace under pressure is all about,” said Chuck Gijanto, BFMC president, in the release.

The hospital transferred its intensive care and mental health patients before the strike, but otherwise operated as normal.

Greenfield Police said demonstrators were peaceful and cooperative.

“There were only very minor issues, and the people from the MNA made sure they were resolved right away,” Sgt. David Rice said. Rice worked a detail at the strike for 12 hours, and said the only problems that arose were things like making sure people kept out of the street, and figuring out where an RV driven by out-of-town supporters was supposed to park.

They wound up dropping anchor in a High Street yard, offered up by the residents.

Rasmussen said the community turned out to support the nurses.

“People were coming by to drop off coffee, water, food and sodas,” he said.

Others showed their support by joining the picket line. Rasmussen said nurses from all over the state showed up, and many had family members and friends with them in solidarity.

The strike may be over, but negotiations continue.

“Though the day went very smoothly on the inside of the building, we are keenly aware of the work which lies ahead of us now that this strike is over,” wrote Gijanto.

“We will continue this struggle until we gain an equitable contract that will guarantee quality and safe patient care at our community hospital,” read a post-strike statement issued by Donna Stern, co-chair of the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s bargain unit at BFMC and a registered nurse. Negotiations resume
Oct. 25.

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