MNA wins staff concessions in other contracts

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PITTSFIELD — The Massachusetts Nurses Association has been able to reach contract agreements with hospitals across the state in the past few years.

Berkshire Medical Center, it says, is one of the "outliers."

For instance, the MNA reached new contracts with Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and Providence Hospital in Holyoke.

Joe Markman, a union spokesman, said those deals were reached before the old contracts expired with three negotiation sessions. The union settled with Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton in January. It reached an agreement Vibra Hospital of Western Massachusetts, a long-term acute care facility in Springfield, in February after two bargaining sessions.

Farther away, the union inked pacts with the University of Massachusetts Medical Center Memorial Campus in Worcester before the old deal expired.

Recent agreements have included terms on staffing, the union says, the issue that has held up a new contract at the Pittsfield hospital.

At Morton Hospital in Taunton, a new pact this year compels the facility run by Steward Healthcare to expand RN staffing in several areas. On medical-surgical floors, a "resource nurse" will be added to night shifts. Further, the number of nursing assignments will be reduced to four or five, according to the MNA.

Last year, the 3,300 registered nurses at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston ratified a contract in which administrators agreed to restore nursing staff to levels of the previous December, though the agreement gives the hospital flexibility depending on the number of patients present.

At about the same time, Lawrence General Hospital agreed to one of the same proposals on the table in Pittsfield: limiting patient assignments to "charge" nurses on nearly every floor of the hospital so they can back up their colleagues.

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.



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