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No Contract Agreement Reached, Nurses Set to Strike Friday

Greenfield, Mass. (WGGB) — Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center are still planning on striking Friday after they were unable to come to a contract agreement Wednesday evening with the Hospital.

According to the Massachusetts Nurses Association over the last month the nurses have made many movements in an attempt to settle a fair contract.

“We as nurses who care for the patients Franklin County were left no choice. We don’t want to be out of the hospital on strike but if we were to accept Baystate’s proposals it would lead to very unsafe situations for our patients. In good conscience at this point we have no other choice other but to hold our one day strike” says Bargaining unit co-chair Linda Judd, RN.

According to Baystate Franklin Medical Center the sticking point for these negotiations continues to be the issue of payment for overtime on a weekly versus daily basis, with the hospital maintaining its proposal to pay time-and-a-half only after a nurse has worked 40 hours in a week, instead of on a per-shift basis as in the current contract.

“What doesn’t add up here is that the nurses are suddenly claiming that it is unsafe for patients if we don’t agree to continue paying them overtime on a daily basis. Our expectation is that our nurses will provide the same quality of care to their patients whether they are getting paid their regular median rate of $40/hour or time-and-a-half median rate of $60/hour,” said Chuck Gijanto, President of Baystate Regional Markets.

With the strike imminent, the hospital is preparing. Clinical services will remain fully functioning include the Emergency Department; medical-surgical inpatient units; The Birthplace; and all ancillary service departments, including Radiology/Imaging, Laboratory, Rehabilitation, Cardiopulmonary and Partial Hospitalization, Outpatient Oncology will be open for limited services.

Baystate says some areas will be operating on a more limited basis during the strike period, including the Mental Health Unit, which earlier this week stopped admitting new patients and transferred those with emergencies to other hospitals.

Surgery and Endoscopy services will be limited to emergencies only during the strike period.

The Intensive Care Unit will be closed during the strike. Those requiring this level of care will be transferred to other hospitals and all of the medical offices and hospital services provided at the 48 Sanderson Street building will be open on Friday, as usual.

The nurses will be walking out at 7 a.m. Friday for a peaceful strike. They will return to work Saturday at 7 a.m.