Baystate Franklin RNs give go-ahead for potential walkout

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Registered nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Mass., have authorized a potential walkout amid contract negotiations, according to a Boston Business Journal report.

The 200 nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted overwhelmingly Monday in favor of the option to strike for one day, the union said in a news release.

"Nurses voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a one-day strike because they want to provide the best possible patient care in a safe environment," Donna Stern, a psychiatric RN and chair of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee, said in the release.

She added: "Even on the day of the strike vote, there were only two RNs in the emergency room in the morning when there needed to be four to five. There were only two nurses in the mental health unit for 19 patients — so each nurse was responsible for caring for nine or 10 patients at the same instant."

The nurses are in the process of negotiating a new contract. Their last one expired in 2016, according to the report.

Nurses recently held a rally to air their concerns. They also filed six federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing hospital owner Springfield, Mass.-based Baystate Health of engaging in illegal bargaining practices.

Still, key sticking points remain, including staffing and benefits, the Boston Business Journal reports.

BFMC expressed disappointment in Monday's vote and called it "inconsistent with our leadership's good faith efforts to address issues collaboratively," according to the report.

BFMC also addressed staffing in a statement, and said increased wages and a competitive benefits package have been on the table for nurses, according to the report

"We don't believe that the MNA's long-running effort to force hospitals to maintain rigid staffing ratios is the right response to the major changes taking place in healthcare, nationally, regionally and in our community," the hospital said in a statement. "We are firmly committed to providing care that is based on each patient's individualized needs with the right resources at the right time and place."

Both sides are expected to return to the bargaining table Thursday, the report states.

 

 

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