Brigham and Women's Hospital, union will make last-ditch effort to avoid looming strike

Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital and its nurses union have agreed to another round of contract negotiations to try to avoid a looming strike, The Boston Globe reports.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents 3,300 nurses at Brigham, is slated to meet with hospital officials Friday.

If a deal is not reached, nurses plan to stage a one-day strike, beginning at 7 a.m. June 27. The strike would include nurses at the main hospital campus in the Longwood area of Boston, along with Brigham facilities in Foxborough, Newton, Jamaica Plain and Chestnut Hill.

But both sides hope another round of contract negotiations will be productive.

"We're hoping this means the hospital is ready to make progress so that we can move forward," Joe Markman, a spokesman for the MNA, said, according to The Boston Globe.

Ron Walls, MD, Brigham's COO, is also optimistic, according to the report, saying that hospital officials are committed to talking all day Friday and through the weekend, if necessary, to try to avoid a walkout. "We're very hopeful we can reach a settlement," he added.

However, if a strike does occur, Brigham, owned by Boston-based Partners HealthCare, said it will cancel many appointments and elective procedures, according to The Boston Globe. Brigham said on its website that it has also already contracted with an outside agency to supply roughly 700 replacement nurses, who would work alongside nonunion Brigham nurses. The contracted nurses would be at Brigham for five days, meaning the hospital's staff nurses would return to the hospital at 7 a.m. July 2.

Although the hospital would operate at 60 percent of capacity during a strike, it would still have the means to accommodate the usual number of births, officials said, according to the report.

Negotiations between the union and Brigham have been ongoing for the past nine months. And on June 13, the MNA voted to authorize a one-day strike. The Boston Globe reports that both sides spent more than 10 hours talking last Friday, and met again on Monday. However, those talks Monday were ultimately unsuccessful.

The hospital said the main points of disagreement in the bargaining sessions are wage increases, health insurance benefits and time off.


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