Berkshire Medical Center and its Registered Nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, have reached a tentative agreement that both sides feel is good news for the hospital, its employees, and the community at large. A statement from Berkshire Medical sent to the Berkshire News Network Friday morning says that from beginning of contract negotiations 45 sessions and 21 months ago, BMC has sought an agreement with its nurses that was fair and reasonable for them and sustainable for the hospital and the community. The nurses bargaining unit says that the agreement marks a huge success for patients, nurses and the community by improving staffing and patient care conditions. This news comes after three marathon bargaining sessions on June 12th, 13th and 14th. The tentative agreement, which must be ratified by a vote of the 800 BMC nurses, averts a one-day strike that was scheduled for Monday.

These are the highlights of the tentative agreement according to information posted on the Massachusetts Nurses Association Website:

Covers the period of Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2021

Language that will help keep charge nurses free to fulfill the role of the charge nurse in order to ensure safe patient care on their units.

The hospital will add additional nursing resources (a total of 9.5 full-time equivalent positions) to four areas: Behavioral health units (including for emergency department mental health boarders); mother baby unit/pediatrics; specialty (PACU, critical care, step-down, emergency department); and medical-surgical units. These nurses will not be included in the staffing grids and will not be pre-assigned prior to their shift.

The hospital agrees not to diminish the current staffing grids as they relate to RNs.

The hospital agrees to post and recruit positions when a scheduled position in a unit and shift is consistently unfilled for four or more consecutive schedule postings, unless the unfilled position is the result of a planned or unplanned leave of absence or the position is already posted.

Wages: Improvements which will help recruit, retain and better compensate caregivers

 

This is the full statement sent to us from Berkshire Medical Center:

From the beginning of contract negotiations 45 sessions and 21 months ago, Berkshire Medical Center has sought an agreement with its registered nurses that was fair and reasonable for them and sustainable for the hospital and the community.  We are pleased to report that after three marathon sessions on June 12, 13 and 14, the hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association have reached just such an agreement.

Having this contract finally settled is, of course, great news for the entire Berkshire community and all hospital employees.  We appreciate the solid support that we received from our community and our employees during these challenging months.

With the distraction and divisiveness of strike threats now gone, we look forward to returning our focus solely to delivering the high quality patient care that our community rightly expects of us.