Baystate Franklin nurses, allies rally to call for fair contract

  • Rose Bookbinder of the Massachusetts Nurses Association speaks at a rally for Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses at Beacon Field on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Marissa Potter, a nurse with The Birthplace at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, speaks at a rally for nurses at Beacon Field on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Nurses and their supporters outside Baystate Franklin Medical Center on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Suzanne Love, an emergency room nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, speaks at a rally for nurses at Beacon Field on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Nurses and their supporters outside Baystate Franklin Medical Center on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Nurse Gillian Cannon, a nurse with The Birthplace at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, speaks at a rally for nurses at Beacon Field on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • People brought their children to a rally at Beacon Field for nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A rally was held at Beacon Field on Friday to support nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2022 4:23:45 PM

GREENFIELD — Roughly 40 adults and about 12 children walked from Baystate Franklin Medical Center to Beacon Field on Friday morning to call on hospital executives to agree to a contract nurses deem fair.

Billed as the “BFMC RN Baby Brigade,” the event was organized by the Massachusetts Nurses Association to generate support for the hospital’s nurses, especially ones working in The Birthplace, as they try to negotiate better protections and pay in their contract.

Once at Beacon Field, Rose Bookbinder, the nurses association’s associate director of labor, opened the rally by thanking everyone for their presence and support. Suzanne Love, a Baystate Franklin emergency room nurse who serves on the negotiating committee, then took to the microphone to praise the work of The Birthplace.

“This place is recognized nationally as an innovative work environment and birth environment,” she told the crowd. “So, great for us in Franklin County that we have this great resource.”

The march and rally came a week after Love, Bookbinder and four others traveled to 68 Union St. in Westfield, the corporate headquarters of Elm Electrical — the company led by Baystate Health board of trustees Chair Robert Bacon — to hand over a petition consisting of at least 650 signatures printed on a banner demanding a new contract. Bacon was not at the headquarters and the  banner was left with his assistant.

On Friday, Love explained the nurses have been in active negotiations with Baystate Health since early winter. She said management has twice agreed to extend the existing contract.

“We were supposed to get a pay raise Jan. 1,” Love said. “We haven’t gotten that yet, because we don’t have an agreement in the contract to go past when it actually expired, Dec. 31.”

Love also mentioned she appreciates how respectful management has been to the nurses during negotiations.

“We’re getting there,” she said. “Rallies like this really help us to get management to see it’s not just these 225 (nurses) that you’re negotiating with, but you’re actually negotiating with a community.”

Love said nursing care can be kept local if nurses are paid enough to incentivize them not to work jobs elsewhere.

Marissa Potter, a nurse at The Birthplace, said executives’ investment in their nursing staff enables people to stay in Greenfield “and continue to do the good work that we do.” She said she believes any patients that choose a community hospital do so because they want to be cared for by their neighbors.

Gillian Cannon, another nurse at The Birthplace, said her workplace is very special and she is fortunate to be there.

“I think that it’s been a very, very difficult couple of years for everybody, for nurses especially, in our unique way,” she said. “We’re still living through that. We’re still experiencing the consequences of that and it feels really important that our employer really acknowledge that and honor what we’ve put in.”

Cannon’s comments about The Birthplace were particularly appropriate Friday, as she was due to give birth in five days.

Deb Provost, Baystate Franklin’s chief nursing officer, said the hospital has participated in respectful and productive contract negotiations with representatives of the Massachusetts Nurses Association for the past five months.

“We continue to make progress toward a fair agreement,” she said. “This includes continuing our long-term commitment to safe staffing, market-competitive compensation and ongoing investment in local care.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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