Berkshire Medical Center nurses to hold strike authorization vote

Registered nurses at Pittsfield, Mass.-based Berkshire Medical Center could potentially go on strike for the second time in 12 months, according to The Berkshire Eagle.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents approximately 800 BMC nurses, told Becker's the workers will hold a vote to authorize the nurse RN Bargaining Committee to potentially call a one-day strike.

Meanwhile, negotiations are slated to continue Tuesday.

"Nurses will be meeting with the hospital and are hoping that management is ready to negotiate real improvements to RN staffing to ensure quality patient care," MNA spokesperson Joe Markman said via email. "The nurses on the bargaining committee are also seeking from management today the information they have requested several times that is necessary to negotiate fair health insurance."

Brenda Cadorette, RN, vice president of acute care and CNO at the hospital, expressed surprise and disappointment in the union's decision to hold a strike authorization vote.

"Our positive experience in the three negotiating sessions since October led us to believe that we could work collaboratively with the union," she said in a letter to RNs Monday, according to the report.  

"We were, therefore, both surprised and disappointed to learn that the MNA had scheduled votes on Jan. 11 and 16 to authorize a second strike."

In her letter, Ms. Cadorette specifically pointed to an agreement between both sides on contract wording related to nurse safety at BMC, but she also said the hospital remains opposed to the MNA's request that "charge" nurse assignments not involve direct care of patients, so they can help other nurses fill staffing needs, as needed, The Berkshire Eagle reported.

Both sides have been in contract negotiations since September 2016, and nearly 800 BMC nurses went on strike in October 2017.

If nurses vote in favor of strike authorization, it does not necessarily mean a second strike will take place. The RN Bargaining Committee would have to officially call a strike and give the hospital at least 10 days notice.

Outside of direct negotiations, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed BMC's claim against the union alleging bad faith bargaining, according to the report. The hospital told The Berkshire Eagle an appeal is possible.


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