Dozens of nurses and their supporters protested Tuesday's dedication ceremony of the new $300 million expansion of Springfield's Baystate Medical Center. The nurses claim the hospital is trying to dismantle their union during contract negotiations.
Baystate Medical Center has unveiled its new 640,000-square-foot cardiovascular wing, which it claims makes it a "hospital of the future." But a group of 55 visiting nurses says Baystate should pay more attention to its employees, as a contract negotiation stalls.
"They showed no respect for us at the bargaining table and every time we thought we were close to a possible settlement, Baystate would pull back. And so it was very clear to us what their ultimate goal was, and basically, that's they're trying to bust up our union."
But Baystate denies that claim. Jane Albert, director of public relations, says the hospital has a long history of working with unions. She says the visiting nurses refuse to accept two contract terms that already apply to the rest of Baystate’s employees – an attendance policy and a benefits package.
"Those are the two issues that caused Baystate Visiting Nurse and Hospice to declare an impasse."
Albert also says that charges of unfair labor practices brought by the union have been dismissed by the National Labor Relations Board. The nurses who rallied outside of Baystate say that while other aspects of the contract have been approved, they have not given up on the sticking points.