Norwood Hospital nurses hold rally about contract
By Brad Cole / firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve been in bargaining for the last year with Steward. It has been slow, a very slow process,” said registered nurse Kathy Reardon, co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit at Norwood Hospital. “They won’t talk about our safe staffing proposal. They won’t broach any kind of economic proposals we have on the table, which are very reasonable, very fair wage proposals.”
After more than 14 months of negotiating, the nurses hosted a “Help Nurses Care for the Community” Rally on Wednesday, April 1, at Aaron Guild Park in Norwood.
“We decided to do a rally because it brings our nurses together and the community can know that we’re here for them,” Reardon said.
The nurses argue that through bargaining, they can improve the patient experience at Norwood Hospital.
“We want to build our hospital. We want it to be the best hospital in the area,” said registered nurse Joan Ballantyne, co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit at Norwood Hospital. “We live here and we want a great hospital. I don’t want to check into Boston for care. I live here and I want to go here.”
Ballantyne said that a key component of the negotiations involve staffing levels. She argued that the hospital is shifting from full-time nurses to per diem and flex nurses, a move that negatively impacts a patient’s continuity of care.
“We want the same nurse taking care of our patients on a daily basis,” Ballantyne said. “What we want is good care for our patients.”
Ballantyne suggested that if bargaining continues at this pace, more rallies would be held. She has already told nurses to get their signs ready for the next one.
“This is what we as nurses do: we stand together and stand strong,” said MNA president Donna Kelly-Williams. “As practicing nurses, all we want to do is provide the best care, and if that takes a rally, it’s what we’ll do.”
Approximately 439 nurses at Norwood Hospital are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said David Schildmeier, director of public communications for the association. More than 200 nurses, including retired nurses and nurses from Norwood Hospital’s sister hospitals turned out for the rally.
“We planned for about that- a couple hundred people,” Schildmeier said. “It was a very strong turnout from the group and community. You can hear, from all the people beeping their horns, that they support us.”
While Schildmeier expected the crowd, others were surprised by the turnout.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” Ballantyne said. “We had such a great crowd. I consider Norwood Hospital my second family, and look at this. They’re all here today.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, April 7, Kim Kelley, director of marketing and public affairs for Norwood Hospital, said Steward was “happy to see MNA join our efforts.”
“We welcome the nurses’ willingness to join our advocacy efforts on behalf of the patients served by Norwood Hospital, a high-quality community hospital,” Kelley wrote . “We are working collaboratively with MNA at the bargaining table and we are very proud to be one of the largest employers of union represented employees in Massachusetts.”
Posted Apr. 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM, Norwood Bulletin