UMass Memorial strives for better relationship with unions

Worcester, Mass.-based UMass Memorial Health Care is making efforts to improve relationships with its unions, according to a Telegram & Gazette report.

The efforts are being spearheaded by Bart Metzger, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for UMass Memorial, who, along with his representatives, has signed nine contracts with labor unions since he started at the hospital in March.

Now, Mr. Metzger is fixing "transactional services," which he describes as broken. These include the job application system and hiring nurses before a new round of contract talks next year, according to the report.

But old conflicts could be difficult to overcome as Mr. Metzger seeks a better relationship with unions, according to the report. The report notes that Worcester nurses were due to negotiate new contracts this year after nearly going on strike two years ago. Mr. Metzger asked the nurses to consider one-year deals while he tried to fill vacant nursing jobs. University campus nurses were most concerned about staffing levels but also wanted their pay to be at the same levels of nurses at the Memorial and Hahnemann campuses who had gained higher pay levels in the 2013 talks, Ellen T. Smith, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Nurses Association bargaining unit for the University campus, told the Telegram & Gazette

Negotiations were difficult, and talks start again next year for new Worcester contracts, Ms. Smith told the publication. University nurses got their pay increase, although it won't kick in until next year.

In the meantime, RNs, who have been the most vocal foes of UMass Memorial managers, have said they are willing to give Mr. Metzger a chance, according to the report. "We'll see," said Colleen E. Wolfe, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Nurses Association bargaining unit representing registered nurses at the Memorial and Hahnemann campuses of UMassMemorialMedicalCenter in Worcester, according to the report. "I'm hopeful, but I'm also cautious. I think we all are."

UMass Memorial has about 13,000 employees. More than half, or about 7,100, are represented by unions.


More articles on workforce and labor management:

Henry Mayo nurses approve new agreement with hospital
Negotiations continue after Rhode Island Hospital workers vote down contract
900 workers, MidHudson Regional reach contract agreement: 4 things to know

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