Strike over, but nurses still locked out of Baystate Franklin Medical Center

Temporary nurses caring for patients at BFMC until Wednesday evening

Nurses from Baystate Franklin Medical Center march to the board of trustees office.

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For the second day in a row, patients are being cared-for by temporary nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, after what was supposed to be a one-day strike has turned into a three-day lockout.

Tuesday morning, members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association marched down to the office of Baystate Franklin’s board of trustees in hopes it will help with contract negotiations.

Nurses had voted earlier this month to go on a one-day strike, as negotiations between the hospital and the union have failed to make progress. The contract for the hospital’s 200 registered nurses expired last November, and they have been working without a contract ever since. Health insurance benefits, staffing, and overtime have been at issue.

“To keep saying things like the nurses want the overtime. Sure, there are times in all of our lives where we could use extra money, but it is so consistent and so overpowering. We have core staffing that they came up with, so we should have our core staffing on and that’s what we’re asking for,” striking nurse Robin Neipp said.

The strike, which the hospital has described as “illegal,” officially ended early Tuesday morning, however, the nurses remain locked out of the hospital until Wednesday night. That is because Baystate Franklin had to guarantee three days of work for the 60 temporary nurses they have hired.

Baystate Franklin President Cindy Russo issued the following statement Tuesday:

“Our hospital and our team are continuing to care for patients during the MNA strike, and the safety, comfort and privacy of our patients and their families is our foremost priority. We’ve made clear to the MNA the need to hire temporary nurses as a result of its strike and we’ve made clear the terms of the lockout. Given the MNA’s track record of disruptive behavior, including forcible entry into North Adams Regional Hospital and disruption of patient care there in 2014, it is important to ensure that no such actions affect our patients and team here today. We’re pleased that the MNA has complied with the terms of the lockout and we look forward to returning to the bargaining table as soon as the MNA agrees to do so.”

There has been no word on when contract negotiations will resume between the hospital and the union.

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