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Baystate Franklin Nurses Head Back to Work after One Day Strike

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center headed back to work Saturday morning after one-day strike.

The 209 nurses walked of the job at 7:00 a.m. Friday and returned to the Franklin County hospital in unison at 7:00 a.m. Saturday.

Friday’s job action, which the union says is the first in the hospital’s history, came after months of negotiations over a new contract.

The Mass. Nurses Association sees the strike as a success, in part because of the community support shown through car horn’s honking throughout the day, as well as food and beverages that were dropped off by residents.

“We were pushed to call the strike in order to protect our community hospital and guarantee our continued delivery of safe patient care. It is so very heartening to see the massive amount of support from the community. Cleary the citizens and patients of Franklin County understand the issues and are supportive of our efforts. We want to thank all of them for all they have done,” says bargaining unit co-chair Donna Stern, RN.

Baystate Franklin remained open the entire time, providing nursing care throughout the hospital’s units, except for the ICU.

Hospital officials say that weeks of preparation and the help from staff at other Baystate Health locations helped keep things running as business as usual.

“Our nursing leaders at Baystate Franklin, working in partnership with their colleagues from the other Baystate Health hospitals and with the BFMC staff nurses who chose to cross the picket line, proved the value of our integrated health system, and demonstrated what grace under pressure is all about. I am so proud of everyone who came together at Baystate Franklin to make sure we had what we needed to provide excellent patient care, and though the day went very smoothly on the inside of the building, we are keenly aware of the work which lies ahead of us now that this strike is over,” says Baystate Franklin President Chuck Gijanto.

The union says that they have been bargained 28 times over the last year where “Baystate Management has committed a number of unfair labor practices and has refused to make the necessary compromises to settle an equitable contract.”

However, Baystate Franklin says that they have come with proposals, but the union has made no counter-offers.

“We need constructive discussions at the table, and the MNA is not interested in engaging with us to get the job done and settle this contract. We have made offers, they are not making counter offers, and we cannot bargain against ourselves,” says Gijanto.

The hospital says that the “sticking point” is over the payment of overtime on a weekly, rather than daily, basis. Baystate wants to maintain their proposal of time-and-a-half only after a nurse has worked 40 hours a week, instead of a per-shift basis, as is outlined in their current contract.

The union contends that “Baystate has taken some very radical positions that would be harmful to quality patient care and they continue to demand concessions from the nurses that would cost the nurses thousands of dollars and deeply cut into their ability to negotiate over wages and health insurance,” according to Donna Stern, RN, who is co-chair of the bargaining committee.

The union and hospital are set to meet again on October 25. “We are eager to get back to the bargaining table and finalize the contract,” says Gijanto.

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