Labor board finds merit in union complaint against Baystate Franklin

  • The Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. Recorder FILE PHOTO

  • Recorder/Paul FranzBaystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staf
Published: 12/13/2017 11:39:05 PM

GREENFIELD — The National Labor Relations Board has found merit in union complaints against Baystate Franklin Medical Center of “unlawful interrogation, the discharge of three employees and the withholding of annual merit increase to represented employees.”

In a statement by its regional office on three complaints that were filed by the recently formed security officers union at the Greenfield hospital, the labor board states the hospital, if it wants, may settle with the security union around the end of the month, or else a complaint will be issued to set a date for a hearing before a federal judge.

Similar to a criminal indictment, that the board’s regional director ruled these three cases have merit does not mean the hospital is guilty of violating labor laws, but rather, the agency believes that if the complaint went before a judge, there would be sufficient facts to defend it, explained Scott Burson, the deputy regional attorney of this region.

Burson said in cases where a union is in the process of forming, like this one, the board typically takes into account “how senior a particular individual is, with respect to remedy.” An instance like this can make a difference to the remedy the board ultimately decides.

In this case, the hospital president, Cindy Russo, was named for her involvement in a retaliation complaint, involving the firing of three security employees.

Russo announced her resignation from her job last week, after 18 months at the helm of the hospital, citing that “at this time, it is the right personal decision for me to explore other health care leadership opportunities.”

Hospital responds

In a response to the Board’s verdict, the hospital’s spokeswoman Shelly Hazlett said, “Baystate Franklin Medical Center looks forward to a full administrative hearing and opportunity to present facts supporting our actions to safeguard employees from targeted unprofessional and disrespectful conduct by co-workers.”

Hazlett added that this verdict has no connection to the departure of Russo.

The next question moving forward is whether the two sides will want to settle. The board works to help the two parties settle before potential litigation.

Early on, the goal of the business agent of the Baystate Franklin Security Officers’ Union, Steve Maritas, is to get the people who were fired back to work, or at the very least, back-pay, he said.

“At this stage of the game, I’m just happy they found merit in these charges,” Maritas said. “I believe the fact they had union representation clearly shows the union is working for them.”

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