Last night, after nearly a year of contract negotiations, Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and hospital officials held their final negotiation session. A one-day strike is planned for tomorrow. Union nurses from across Massachusetts staged a picket in support of the Greenfield-based nurses yesterday outside Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
Union nurses held signs and marched in front of the hospital as passing cars honked in support.
In their negotiations, Nurses and Baystate officials have consistently clashed over wages, sick pay, health insurance costs, and overtime pay. Baystate Franklin President Chuck Gijanto says nurses have refused to budge on a proposed change to their overtime pay rate.
“That is the one issue that they’ve been unwilling to discuss, and that is the one that we need them to compromise on, and if we can resolve that issue, we can resolve the rest of the contract.”
Baystate Franklin nurses receive overtime pay for daily overtime, but Gijanto says the hospital wants to move the nurses to overtime pay when working over forty hours in a week, which is the minimum federal standard. Linda Judd, co-chair of the nurses bargaining unit says many nurses routinely work only twenty-four to thirty-six hours a week, but often work up to sixteen hours in one shift.
“And when you’re asking a nurse to work over their scheduled shift, the ability to carry out safe care is going to decline.”
Baystate officials say patients receive the same care, regardless of the length of a nurse’s shift.