GREENFIELD, Mass., Oct. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center walked out of the hospital this morning at 7 a.m. to begin a 24 hour unfair labor practice strike, the first nurses' strike in the history of the Greenfield-based hospital. The action comes at the end of a year of fruitless negotiations. The nurses were joined by community and labor supporters as well as by more than 100 nurses from hospitals across the state who share the nurses' concerns for patients safety.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United local bargaining unit of 209 registered nurses has been at the table for twenty eight sessions over the last year where Baystate Management has committed a number of unfair labor practices and has refused to make the necessary compromises to settle an equitable contract.
"We as nurses who care for the patients Franklin County were left no alternative. We don't want to be out of the hospital on strike but if we were to accept Baystate's proposals it would lead to very unsafe situations for our patients," said Bargaining unit co-chair Linda Judd, RN.
Nurses called for the strike in response to Baystate Health System's unfair labor practices, as well as to their demands for unreasonable concessions from the nurses, including proposals that will strip them of key union rights, will increase the dangerous use of overtime to staff the hospital and will discipline nurses for using legitimate sick time, thus forcing them to care for patients when they are ill.
"Baystate has taken some very radical positions that would be harmful to quality patient care and they continue to demand concessions from the nurses that would cost the nurses thousands of dollars and deeply cut into their ability to negotiate over wages and health insurance. In order to protect the quality of our patient care and the integrity of our union contract we had to call a strike," said Donna Stern, RN, co-chair of the bargaining committee.
"In the last ten years I have seen Baystate come into our community hospital and try to strip us of any caring and humanity. They have little concern for the Franklin County area. Over and over we have seen patients needlessly transferred to Springfield, not to serve the patients needs but to serve Baystate's insatiable appetite for profit."
The nurses will join together outside the hospital at 6:45 tomorrow morning and will return to work in the hospital as a group.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is also a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast.
SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United