Baystate Franklin nurses planning one-day strike

Hospital system plans to keep facility open on June 26, regardless of strike

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center plan to go on a one-day strike on June 26, as contract negotiations between the hospital system and Massachusetts Nurses Association have failed to make progress.

The MNA, which represents 200 registered nurses at the Greenfield hospital, announced Tuesday that they have filed a 10-day notice of their intent to strike. Negotiations have been going on since last November, with the previous contract for nurses having expired on December 31. At issue are disputes over staffing levels and hours, as well as health insurance benefits.

In an MNA news release sent to 22News, Donna Stern, the co-chair of the nurses’ bargaining unit, said that going on strike is the last thing that they want to do is strike, but the number of hours nurses are being made to work is unfair.

“When nurses have too many patients to care for at one time, we can’t be there for the patient when the patient needs us to be. When nurses are forced against their will to work extra hours or entire shifts, simply because the hospital has refused to hire enough staff to cover all available shifts, nurses are exhausted and more prone to make errors in care,” Stern said.

In a statement sent to 22News, Baystate Franklin President Cindy Russo says that that they have been negotiating in good faith, and the nurses’ union has made unfair attacks on the hospital.

“We have worked hard to obtain a successor contract for our nurses over the last several months,” Russo said. “However, the union has continued to make unfounded public accusations about our organization and has not been forthcoming with requested information which has caused us to file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.”

If the nurses do go through with the strike, Baystate Franklin will remain open. The hospital system has plans to staff the facility with nurses from a staffing agency.

In their releases to 22News, both sides expressed a willingness to continue negotiating, and hopes to reach a settlement to avoid the strike.