Judge rules against Berkshire Medical Center in court battle over planned nurse strike

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

Pittsfield, Mass.-based Berkshire Medical Center lost its court battle to avert a planned Oct. 3 nurse strike, according to a report on iBerkshires.com.

The 298-bed community hospital filed a legal request for an injunction to avert the planned strike last month. However, U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni in Springfield, Mass., denied Berkshire Medical Center's request Friday, meaning the 24-hour walkout is still scheduled, according to the report.

In response to the judge's ruling, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents nearly 800 Berkshire Medical Center nurses, told Becker's via email: "If the hospital was really serious about doing anything to stop the strike, they would negotiate in good faith over the patient care conditions nurses are seeking. As [the] federal judge's ruling shows, nurses have a legally protected right to advocate for themselves and their patients. BMC nurses are prepared to strike for 24 hours, but still hope that management does this right thing, returns to the bargaining table and seeks a fair agreement."

Berkshire Medical Center expressed disappointment in the judge's ruling.

"This strike does not serve anyone's best interests — not the nurses, not the hospital's and not the community's, and can only serve to harm all three," the hospital said in an emailed statement to Becker's. "We are fully prepared to provide uninterrupted care throughout the five-day period and have been preparing for this eventuality for several months. The fact that this is the third such strike by the MNA since June makes it evident that this is a tactic the union is using to promote its statewide political agenda."

Both sides have been negotiating for about a year, with key sticking points including staffing and health insurance. The 24-hour strike is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Oct. 3 and last until 7 a.m. Oct. 4. At that point, hospital officials have said nurses won't be able to return to work for another four days because Berkshire Medical Center hired replacement workers for a minimum five-day contract. The MNA has also scheduled a "patient safety vigil" Oct. 2 prior to the planned strike.


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