Nurses rally against Baystate Health after filing unfair labor practice charges

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and supporters protested on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday against what they say are unfair labor practices. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and their supporters protest on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and their supporters protest on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Donna Stern, chair of the nurse's bargaining committee, speaks at a rally on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Donna Stern, chair of the nurse's bargaining committee, speaks at a rally on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and their supporters protest on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Donna Stern, chair of the nurse's bargaining committee, speaks at a rally on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and their supporters protest on the Greenfield Town Common on Thursday. March 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/9/2017 11:39:16 PM

GREENFIELD — As people drove home at the end of Thursday’s workday, members of the local nurses union rallied on the Town Common to express grief with Baystate Franklin Medical Center for what they have deemed unfair labor practices.

The union has filed six charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

In partnership with Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, the Massachusetts Nurse Association and more than 50 supporters aired frustrations with the public.

The nurses are chiefly complaining that Baystate Franklin Medical Center is not bargaining in good faith — obstructing them from reaching their goals of safer staffing and security. The union would like to see an additional security officer for the night shift following a recent cut, and would like to see additional staffing for nurses instead of consistent requests for its employees to work overtime.

Department of Public Health records provided by the nurses union indicate 19 individual incidents of mandatory nurse overtime from July 19 to Dec. 15, 2016.

The union also provided 128 text messages to nurses in one medical-surgical unit from Aug. 30, 2016 to Feb. 13, 2017 which, according to the documents provided by the union, “requested nurses to work when they were scheduled to be off because of staffing shortages.” These documents are part of the filings to the National Labor Relations Board.

“To understand the urgency is to understand the history,” chairwoman of the nurse’s bargaining committee Donna Stern said.

Stern, who is also a psychiatric nurse at the hospital, said the nurses came to the bargaining table hopeful that Baystate would hear their complaints but found them unresponsive.

The nurses contract with the hospital was set to expire at the end of 2016. Stern said the nurses asked to set up a time to bargain starting in September, though they did not sit down with Baystate Franklin Medical Center until November. When they did begin dialogue she said they were unprepared to discuss numbers in depth.

Baystate responds

“Baystate Health greatly values the dedication and contributions of our nurses across our organization,” said Baystate Health Benjamin Craft spokesman in an email when reached Thursday night. “We have a fair and competitive offer on the table, and we’ll continue to bargain in good faith in line with our sincere intent to reach a settlement.”

There have been 13 bargaining sessions so far. Last time around there were 44 total sessions, according to Stern. The workload of nurses is the number one complaint.

“This is a company that has lost its moral compass,” Stern said about Baystate Health.

Stern said she has no issues with the managers at the hospital, but with the representatives of Baystate Health, the overarching group that is in charge of its hospital in Springfield and others like Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

“They want to be financially robust even though they earn a profit,” union representative for the emergency department at the hospital Suzanne Love said.

Love said the negotiations were stalled and that the bargaining that did happen — 12 sessions to date — were not productive.

“I would like for us to be able to get a contract in a timely fashion so we can continue to provide good care to the community,” Love said.

The organizer of Thursday’s rally, David Cohen of the Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution group, said he takes issue that a hospital classified as a nonprofit is running like, he believes, a big business.

“To me they’re on this verge of nonprofit or are they really a nonprofit disguised as a corporation,” Cohen said.

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com


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