Nurses and their supporters will walk a picket line outside Baystate Medical Center this afternoon, to show their support as fellow nurses in Greenfield prepare to strike.
Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center recently voted to strike in protest of what they call unfair labor practices on the part of Baystate. The Greenfield nurses, as well as nurses from Baystate Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice in Springfield, have been engaged in a lengthy and contentious contract-bargaining process with the hospital. Among the issues in dispute: whether nurses will continue to have the right to collectively bargain over wages, insurance and other matters.
In a press release about the strike, Linda Judd of the Mass. Nurses Association said, “We are in a struggle to make sure the hospital serves the needs of our community, not the corporate bottom line needs of Baystate Health Systems in Springfield.” The union accuses Baystate of bullying the nurses and of failing to bargain in good faith; earlier this month, the MNA filed charges against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board. (See this op-ed, in the Greenfield Recorder, from more on the nurses' position.)
After the nurses voted in August to authorize a strike, Chuck Gijanto, president of Baystate Regional Markets, called the the move “a sad moment for all of us at the hospital. … The nurses’ decision today puts a serious strain on the unity we have enjoyed in doing what is best for our patients and the community we serve, as the rest of us must now focus on making contingency plans that would assure continuing safe care for our patients in the event the nurses strike.”
This afternoon’s picket will take place outside Baystate Medical Center, at the corner of Chestnut and Springfield streets, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. (Similar events in support of nurses are also planned today on the Greenfield Town Common, from noon to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 5 p.m.)
Nurses at BFMC are scheduled to begin a 24-hour strike at 7 a.m. on Friday, although Conor Berry reports in this morning’s Republican that the action could be averted depending on the results of a contract negotiating session scheduled for this evening.