Baystate Franklin hopes to avert strike, but outlines preparation plans

Greenfield, Mass.-based Baystate Franklin Medical Center is urging the union representing about 200 hospital nurses to hold a contract vote and potentially avert a planned strike.

Nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association are scheduled to strike April 11. However, Baystate Franklin sent out a news release April 9, calling on the union to let nurses vote on contract proposals. Hospital officials said current proposals include a 4.9 percent salary increase over the duration of the contract, health insurance options requested by the union, written staffing commitments and various other benefits. 

"Based on the strength of our proposed contract terms, particularly in offering a staffing model that the MNA has previously accepted in other hospitals, we are respectfully requesting that the MNA bring these contract terms to their members for a vote," said Baystate Franklin Interim president Ronald Bryant. "Doing so will allow our hospital to move forward and continue our important healthcare mission."

If nurses vote in favor of the proposals, the strike could be avoided. Still, the hospital is preparing for a potential strike. Baystate Franklin officials said the hospital will be open and operational during the strike, with exceptions such as the cardiac rehab unit, preadmission clinic, tuberculosis clinic and intensive care unit. They noted ICU patients will receive care at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.

Additionally, Baystate Franklin is bringing in experienced temporary nurses, who will begin work at 7 p.m. April 10 and finish shifts at 7 p.m. April 13. Striking nurses will not be able to return to work until the temporary nurses leave due to the hospital's contract terms with the temporary workers.

Donna Stern, RN, senior co-chair of the Baystate Franklin RN Bargaining Committee, took issue with the hospital's plans.

"Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses want to be inside our hospital caring for our patients with the resources they need and deserve," she said in statement April 9. "Instead Baystate is forcing us to strike for 24 hours to advocate for safe patient care.

"On top of that, Baystate is using public money to lock our own nurses out before our strike and for two days afterward. Executives will be paying replacement nurses from around the country instead of allowing our nurses, who know our patients and our community, to provide care at our hospital."

Both sides have been in negotiations since November 2016.

 

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