Baystate Franklin Medical Center Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement that Benefits Patients, Nurses and the Public
GREENFIELD, Mass. – The registered nurses of Baystate Franklin Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, reached a tentative contract agreement on Wednesday, May 23 following 18 months of negotiations and a powerful effort to improve staffing and patient care conditions that included two one-day strikes and tremendous community solidarity.
“This is a huge victory for Baystate Franklin patients, nurses and our entire community. The ultimate credit for this settlement goes to our 200 unified nurses and the Franklin County residents who joined with us,” said Donna Stern, RN and Senior Co-Chair of the BFMC MNA Bargaining Committee. “This settlement means public resources will be used appropriately, to improve patient care conditions and ensure that the nurses who provide care are treated fairly.”
“Our nurses stood together through two strikes and many months of hard-fought negotiations,” said Jillian Cycz, RN and Junior Co-Chair of the BFMC MNA Bargaining Unit. “Our resulting contract will make it easier for nurses to provide high-quality patient care and will help the hospital recruit and retain nurses by providing decent health insurance, strong benefits and fair wages.”
The new agreement will have to be ratified by a vote of the BFMC nurses. It covers the period from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2021. Highlights of the agreement include:
- The hospital agrees not to diminish the current staffing grids as they relate to RNs.
- The hospital shall post and recruit positions to fill such positions that are necessary for the hospital to meet its contract obligations.
- Assign a charge/admission nurse at all times in the mental health unit.
- In the medical/surgical/telemetry units, the hospital will plan to have one charge nurse at all times without a patient assignment and one admissions nurse without a patient assignment from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- On a daily basis in the medical/surgical/telemetry units, the charge nurse will have no patient assignment at the start of their shift. After two hours they may take up to two patient assignments in unplanned circumstances. In those circumstances, management will make all efforts to make available an RN who can take the transfer of the charge nurse’s patient assignment.
- In the operating room, charge nurses is not given a patient assignment.
- The hospital agrees to reinstate the Silver health insurance plan management took away from nurses before negotiations began, effective August 1. And an agreement to maintenance of benefits language assuring that there will be no cuts to the benefits to or increase to the Silver health plan through 2021.
- The hospital withdrew proposals to reduce nurses’ earned time and holidays.
Wages: Improvements which will help recruit, retain and better compensate caregivers:
- Ratification bonus: Nurses will receive a .50 per hour for every hour paid in 2017 and through the first full pay period after ratification.
- 2.5% across-the-board increase the first full pay period after ratification.
- 1.4% effective Jan. 1, 2019
- 1.5% effective Jan. 1, 2020
- 2% effective Jan. 1, 2021
- Increased differential pay for evening, nights, weekends, advanced degree nurses, precepting (when seasoned nurses are training new nurses)
- Quality & Risk Management/Case Management RNs move up a pay grade
- Improved tuition reimbursement so RNs can advance their skills
- Improved retirement language, locking down the details of the plan benefits.
- Workplace violence prevention and floating language and the creation of a new float pool to improve staffing and patient care.
- Language affirming compliance with Mass. meal break law, Mass Earned Sick Time Law and the ICU patient care law, and language saying that the Patient Safety Act, when passed, will be effective in the hospital 7/1/2020.
- Redefined "Emergency" as it is used in the contract (which had been overused over-broadly in the past by some managers) to be "An unforeseen event that could not be prudently planned for or anticipated by a hospital and affects patient safety in the hospital and where there is a government declaration of emergency, catastrophic event or hospital emergency declared by the president of the hospital.”
- Improved vacancy/job bidding language and leave language. Including improved education leave language, so RNs can stay employed while enrolled in school to advance their skills.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is 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.