Talks continue on day of planned nurses’ strike

  • Representatives from the Massachusetts Nurses Association, nurses from Baystate Franklin Medical Center and their supporters gather outside the hospital in Greenfield awaiting nurses who left at 7 p.m. as the three day lockout during which temporary nursing staff was brought in began as a result of MNA’s protest strike, Sunday, June 25, 2017. Recorder file photo

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

GREENFIELD — Talks will continue into March as the chance of a potential strike hangs over conversations between nurses and hospital officials at Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

On Wednesday, the two sides sat down for its second day of negotiations after averting a scheduled strike and lockout. The day’s negotiations ran for about 10 hours.

“We are again disappointed that the MNA has not yet accepted our enhanced proposals on behalf of our nurses,” Baystate Health spokeswoman Shelly Hazlett said in a statement. She added the hospital has tried to offer proposals to meet the chief concerns of the Massachusetts Nurses Association nurses on staffing, health insurance and wages.

Now, the two sides are slated to meet March 14, Hazlett said in her statement. While the hospital said this date was agreed upon by the two sides Wednesday, the nurses did not indicate a scheduled date.

Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesman Joe Markman said the next meeting will be in the “near future,” but was unavailable for further comment Wednesday night.

This means, despite the nurses union having the ability to call a one-day strike, it is instead on track to continue bargaining in attempt to come to a resolution to their 16-month contract dispute with Baystate Franklin Medical Center administration.

“We strive to bring closure to these contract negotiations so we can all focus on our important work providing outstanding care to our patients,” Hazlett said in her statement.

Previously, the nurses had been scheduled to strike on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The union still has the authority to call a strike, given it provides the hospital with 10 days notice.

Both sides have consistently emphasized publicly their desires to not see a strike.

At a rally for unions Monday, as a part of a national day of support for unions while under perceived threat by a United States Supreme Court hearing, the head of the local nurses bargaining unit Donna Stern told the crowd, “We’re going to give them one more chance on Wednesday, and we’ll see how it goes, but we have not given up our right to strike.”