NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts (WGGB) – Northampton’s Cooley Dickinson Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association has reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract, ending 17 months of often contentious negotiations. The tentative agreement was reached around 2 a.m. Thursday, after a long session during which issues regarding staffing and wages were worked out, some with help from a federal mediator.
The wage agreement includes a 1 percent ratification bonus effective January 22, 2012 (the beginning of year two of the contract) and a 1 percent increase for nurses at the top of the wage scale, effective the same day. In the third year, the agreement also includes a 1 percent increase on January 22, 2013, and a 1 percent across-the-board increase on July 22, 2013.
Both sides say they’re happy with the agreement. Sally Surgen, Chair of the CDH/MNA Nurses Committee said, “After many long months of meetings and give-and-take on both sides, the RN Negotiating Committee is pleased to have come to an equitable end to our negotiations with management.”
CDH President Craig Melin said, “We join the Nurses Committee in being pleased with the final settlement. Though the long negotiations process was difficult at times, we look forward to a joint renewed commitment to maintaining and improving on our high standards for patient care.”
The hospital and nurses have been engaged in contract negotiations with a February deadline fast approaching. Cooley Dickinson Hospital is slated to merge with a larger health care organization that is expected to be either Baystate Medical Center in Springfield or Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. That merger could happen as soon as the end of next month. The tentative contract agreement contains language that will require a new owner to honor the terms of the MNA contract.