MNA Nurses at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke Ratify Strong Contract after First Negotiation with Out-of-State Employer
HOLYOKE, Mass. – The 91 registered nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital recently ratified a contract with their new out-of-state owner Trinity Health that provides positive benefits for nurses, helping them better serve their community.
“As nurses, we have an important role to play ensuring the health and safety of not only our patients but also our colleagues, our peers, friends and loved ones,” said Cindy Chaplin, RN and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital. “A strong union contract for our nurses means we can better serve our community. We are proud to say this agreement helps keep safe colleagues who are victims of domestic violence and adds protections for per-diem nurses who are joining the MNA and those with non-binary gender identity.”
Providence Behavioral Health Hospital is the premiere private behavioral health facility in Western Massachusetts, serving all ages with inpatient and outpatient services. The 104-bed hospital is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the region. The hospital’s services include acute substance abuse and opioid treatment, along with inpatient adult, adolescent and child psychiatric services.
The Providence nurses on June 29 voted to ratify a tentative agreement that was reached between the elected nurses on the MNA Bargaining Committee and hospital management on June 15. Negotiations began in October 2017 and included 14 bargaining sessions. This was the first round of MNA contract negotiations with owner Trinity Health, the Michigan-based health system that owns 94 hospitals in 22 states.
“When a large, out-of-state corporation purchases a smaller community hospital with the goal of rebranding and aligning its policies and benefits, negotiations become complicated and challenging to find that middle ground,” said Andrea Fox, RN and Associate Director in the MNA's Division of Labor Action. “There is an inevitable culture change. Over the eight months at the table, there was give-and-take by both parties to get to this new agreement.”
- A new domestic violence program that gives staff members at Providence and sister hospital Mercy Medical Center in Springfield the ability to help each other by effectively guiding victims of domestic abuse to a strong support system.
- The program is a model for health care employers that are seeking to protect and empower their workforce.
- A joint Domestic Violence Task Force was formed following the last round of MNA contract negotiations at both hospitals. The task force included MNA nurses and hospital administrators. It developed safety policies and materials for all employees at Mercy and Providence who are affected by domestic violence. The program was officially adopted with the ratification of both contracts.
- Resources include outside assistance such as government agencies and nonprofits; reserved parking spaces; escorts to vehicles; increased security measures and signage; spiritual care; leave of absence provisions; assistance on work time; and education materials for employees on how to support and respond appropriately to colleagues affected by domestic violence.
- The program also allows employees affected by domestic abuse and eligible family members to join the health plan during non-open enrollment periods.
- The MNA bargaining unit at Providence will add approximately 30 per-diem nurses as part of the new contract. The per-diem nurses, who pick up open shifts rather than work a regular schedule, will now have the full union protections and voting rights of MNA membership.
- Recognition of non-binary gender individuals in the MNA contract.
- Increase in educational reimbursement from $2,000 to $2,500 and an increase from $100 per continuing education credit to $500.
- Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018: 2% across-the-board (ATB)
- Jan. 1, 2019: 2.5% ATB
- Jan. 1, 2020: 3% ATB
- Professional bonus upon ratification: $2,000 for full-time members and $500 for part-time “in thanks and a show of respect for the exceptional care provided to our patients and community by our nursing staff.”
- Additional paid leave for public service missions.
- New eligibility to take three days bereavement leave to attend services for an expanded list of family members, including unmarried significant others or unmarried spouses. The new language says that bereavement leave covers unmarried significant others “whether or not the person resides in the same household, as many families live or work apart from each other for a myriad of reasons, none of which diminish the familial relationship.”