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Nurse Negotiations

Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses hosting party Friday night to thank community

GREENFIELD — Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses will hold a party at the Greenfield Grille Friday night to thank the community for its support during the recent 29-month contract dispute with the hospital. Nurses and hospital officials signed a new contract last month.

Nurses want people to stay involved in an effort to keep medical services local in Greenfield, and view the party, which starts at 6 p.m., as another place those discussions can happen.

“The last 2½ years showed what we can accomplish when nurses and patients, health care workers and community activists all work together to make sure that our hospital is responsive to the needs of the community right here in Greenfield,” said Linda Judd, co-chair of the bargaining unit, in a prepared statement.

“This is a work in progress, and we pledge to continue to make our voices heard so that Greenfield and Franklin County residents gain greater control over the future of our community hospital,” she said.

Hospital officials weren’t invited to the Massachusetts Nurses Association event. But spokeswoman Amy Swisher said Wednesday that “we look forward to having more discussions with the community about Baystate Franklin’s present services and our plans for the future.”

Nurses have said that their one-day strike in October 2012 unified the union and community members. At a nurse-organized forum last March, they heard residents’ concerns about a perceived shift in medical services from the Greenfield hospital to the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Hospital officials insisted throughout the past year that medical services aren’t traveling south. They held strong to their belief that it was a financial necessity to switch from daily overtime pay to a weekly model.

The nurses had scheduled a second 24-hour strike for Feb. 10. But state legislators intervened in the week leading up to the strike and were able to have the sides negotiate and settle the contract.

Daily overtime is still in place but nurses are being paid straight time if they work less than one hour of overtime, a compromise that will save the hospital at least $65,000 each year. A task force will work to remove the need for overtime altogether.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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