Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses plan one-day strike

Registered nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Mass., plan to strike for one day beginning June 26.

The workers, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, will protest what the union deems as "bad faith bargaining" by the hospital.

"The last thing nurses want to do is strike, but there comes a point when you have to make a stand, especially when the issues involved impact the very core of our mission as nurses, which is the ability to provide safe and appropriate care up to our professional standards," Donna Stern, co-chair of the nurses bargaining unit for the BFMC nurses, said in a union news release. "When nurses have too many patients to care for at one time, we can't be there for the patient when the patient needs us to be. When nurses are forced against their will to work extra hours or entire shifts, simply because the hospital has refused to hire enough staff to cover all available shifts, nurses are exhausted and more prone to make errors in care. Nurses also can't tell their families when they'll be home, or when they'll have a day off. Baystate management refuses to bargain over nurse workload or nurse hiring to improve the situation."

BFMC expressed disappointment in the union's plans to strike in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. However, the hospital said it will remain open and operational throughout the strike and has a contingency plan in place "to ensure patients' and the community's healthcare needs are met during the union's strike." The plan includes contracting with a professional staffing agency to provide nurses for multiple days.

"Our priority is the welfare and safety of patients, and we will continue providing safe, quality, uninterrupted care to our community as we have for decades," Cindy Russo, BFMC president, said.

"We have worked hard to obtain a successor contract for our nurses over the last several months," she added. "However, the union has continued to make unfounded public accusations about our organization and has not been forthcoming with requested information which has caused us to file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We remain committed to bargaining in good faith with the union to reach agreement — hopefully without the MNA leading nurses out on strike. The MNA has the option to withdraw its 10-day notice before its strike begins."

The strike is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. ET June 26 and continue for 24 hours. However, the union, which represents about 200 BFMC nurses, said it is open to bargaining prior to the strike date "if management chooses to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement."

Key sticking points in negotiations include staffing, workload and health benefits, the MNA said.


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