Steward Morton Hospital workers OK labor deal

Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association have approved a three-year contract with Taunton-based Steward Morton Hospital.

The union represents nearly 400 registered nurses and healthcare professionals at the hospital. 

Union members voted to ratify the new contract, which includes wage hikes and addresses issues that include staffing and working conditions. The agreement came after months of negotiations and after workers in May voted to authorize a strike if necessary. 

"This contract is a testament to the unity of our nurses and health professionals, who made it clear to management that we were ready to do whatever it takes, up to and including a strike, to achieve what we needed to recruit and retain the dedicated and talented staff that make this hospital run," Jacqui Fitts, RN, chairperson of the MNA local bargaining unit at Morton, said in a June 30 news release.  "We are pleased that our administration heeded our concerns and decided to work with us to reach a settlement we all can be proud of."

According to the union, highlights of the agreement include across-the-board wage increases for most staff totaling 11 percent during the duration of the contract or 15 percent for the most senior staff members. 

The contract also includes a new $7-per-hour differential for nurses who seek to be part of a hospitalwide float pool, as well as improvements to nurses' vacation time benefit, the union said.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Morton Hospital President Heidi Taylor said: "Morton Hospital deeply values our nursing staff's contributions to both our hospital and the communities we serve, and this newly ratified contract reflects our joint commitment to providing our patients with high-quality care in the local community. We're proud to have worked together collaboratively to reach this agreement and are glad to see it accepted by our nurses. Going forward, Morton Hospital and our talented nurses will continue to serve the Greater Taunton community and beyond with the excellence and dedication our patients expect from us."

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