Nurses file labor charges against Baystate Franklin Medical Center

  • Baystate Frankllin Medical Center Emergency Room entrance. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/7/2017 11:46:14 PM

GREENFIELD — The nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center filed labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board on the grounds that the hospital has refused to bargain in good faith.

The unionized nurses under the Massachusetts Nurses Association pointed to concerns with the safety and security of the staff at the hospital, which recently was nominated as one of the top 100 rural hospitals in the country.

Following the prior bargaining agreement, which took three years to reach, the nurses were hopeful in reaching an agreement in a shorter amount of time, said Joe Markman, MNA spokesman. Contract negotiations began in the fall of 2016.

“Whenever we go to the bargaining table, they’re not really negotiating,” said Jillian Sicard, junior co-chairwoman of the nurses union. “They just don’t talk about it. They say they negotiate but they don’t negotiate.”

The hospital though sees the union’s charges as a tactical move.

“We continue to conduct our negotiations with the MNA in good faith and with the intent to reach a fair agreement, so we’re disappointed to see this attack on our reputation, which is right out of the MNA’s standard playbook for negotiations,” said Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs of Baystate Health Benjamin Craft.

Safety and security are the two main issues that have been brought to the table since the start of negotiations. The nurses cited workload, health insurance, retirement and health and safety language as chief points of concern. A press release points to repeated requests to ask nurses to come in and work during their days off.

“Rather than engage nurses on our top priority — safe patient limits targeted to BFMC patient needs — Baystate has bargained in bad faith, threatening our ability to make sure our patients receive the safest possible care,” said Donna Stern, head of the nurse’s bargaining committee at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, in a press release.

Markman stressed the desire of the nurses to see the hospital grow and expand its services and have a great reputation as a place to work.

“Going into this one, the nurses wanted to have a real positive outlook and have real positive goals,” Markman said. “Pretty quickly they realized Baystate was not going to move in that same positive direction.”

The press release states that 200 nurses engaged in negotiations with the hospital in November. A federal mediator has also joined the process.

The bargaining agreement was set to expire at the end of 2016.

“We call on the MNA to resume a constructive approach to negotiations, and to keep in mind the most important stakeholders in our discussions, the patients and communities we serve,” Craft said of the nurses association.

The nurses will rally Thursday afternoon at the Greenfield Town Common from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution will host the event in support of the nurses.

Reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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