LAWRENCE, Mass. — The more than 450 nurses of Lawrence General Hospital, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted this week to ratify a new union contract after more than nine months of negotiations.
The agreement, which was completed earlier this month, covers a three-year period starting Oct. 2, 2015. It will expire October 2018.
Highlights of the agreement include:
· A 2.5 percent across-the-board wage increase for all nurses, with a .5 percent increase retroactive to Oct 2015, 1 percent in Oct. 2016 and 1 percent in Oct. 2017. The pact also includes the addition of two new steps to the top of the nurses stepped salary scale, which provides nurses with annual pay increases based on their years of experience.
Increases to the weekly allowed benefit time off throughout the hospital, affording nurses expanded opportunities to take time off particularly in the summer months, with many areas realizing more than a 20% increase in the amount of time allocated for summer vacations.
· The hospital has agreed to a number of staffing improvements to ensure quality patient care, including the addition of charge nurses with limited patient assignments on nearly every floor. Charge nurses work with and assist other nurses on the floor and coordinate the flow of patients. The hospital has also committed to increase the number of ancillary staff on a number of units. Under the agreement, the union and management will meet on a regular basis to evaluate the staffing changes and patient care needs.
“The nurses at Lawrence General Hospital are pleased with this new contract and look forward to its implementation in the months to come,” said Diane Lee, an operating room nurse at the facility and co-chair of the MNA local bargaining unit for the nurses at the hospital. “We are particularly looking forward to the improvements in staffing promised in the agreement as this is key to our maintaining the high standard of care our patients expect and deserve.”
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United 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 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.