Nurses at Baystate Franklin may hold one-day strike

Negotiations between nurses and the hospital system have been going on since November

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center have voted to authorize a one-day strike, if a contract agreement is not soon reached between their union and the health system.

Monday night, 93% of BFMC nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association voted to authorize the strike. Under the law, the union would need to notify Baystate Health 10 days in advance of such a strike, and the nurses’ bargaining committee will decide if and when to call the strike.

The nurses and Baystate have been in negotiations over a new contract since November, to replace the previous contract that was set to expire on December 31. A federal mediator has been called-in to help with the negotiations.

Baystate and the union have disagreements on staffing levels- including patient limits for nurses. Additionally, there is conflict over benefits.

“Nurses voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a one-day strike because they want to provide the best possible patient care in a safe environment,” BFMC RN Bargaining Committee chair Donna Stern said. “Unfortunately, Baystate is taking a different path. By refusing to negotiate in good faith and refusing to consider nurse proposals to improve patient care and security, Baystate is failing our community.”

For its part, Baystate Health says that their contract proposals have included wage increases and a “strong and competitive overall benefits package.” In a statement sent to 22News, Cindy Russo, RN, president and chief administrative officer of Baystate Health’s Northern Region, said that they disagree with the union’s effort to establish “rigid staffing ratios,” and added the union is undermining the negotiations by taking their case against the hospital system to the media.

“This negative and unproductive approach of negotiating through the press has made it challenging to reach agreement, despite the countless positive offers that we have brought forward,” Russo wrote.

The next bargaining session between Baystate Health and members of the BFMC RN Bargaining Committee is scheduled for Thursday.

There are 200 registered nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association.