Monday, February 27, 2012 • 7:44 AM Post a Comment

Nurses to Protest at Baystate Ceremony

posted by Maureen Turner

When Baystate Health holds its dedication ceremony tomorrow morning for its new “Hospital of the Future”— a $296 million expansion that will include a heart and vascular center and a new emergency room—local nurses and their supporters will be picketing the event, in protest of what they call the hospital’s “bullying” behavior.

The picket will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 9 a.m. at the new facility on Springfield Street.

Hospital officials and the Mass. Nurses Association had been at the negotiating table to hammer out a new contract for its visiting and hospice nurses. According to the union, Baystate wanted the nurses to give up their right to collective bargaining over health insurance coverage; when the union refused, the hospital declared the process to be at an impasse, ending negotiations.

In a press release announcing the picket, Western Mass. Jobs With Justice calls the declaration of an impasse “a declaration of war in the workplace.”

“Did Baystate really negotiate in good faith, demonstrating a real desire to reach agreement? The union has filed charges that it did not,” Jobs With Justice says. “Certainly, demanding that the union give up future bargaining over health insurance and attendance policy does not demonstrate a real desire to reach agreement.”

This isn’t the only contract struggle between nurses and Baystate; nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield are also negotiating a new contract

Meanwhile, many eyes are fixed on Northampton’s Cooley Dickinson Hospital, where the Board of Trustees is expected to vote today on which of two large hospitals it plans to affiliate with: Baystate or Mass General.

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