Registered nurses at Berkshire Medical Center have set another strike, citing demands for contract changes they say are needed to improve staffing and ensure patient safety. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the hospital views the demands as unacceptable. Hospital officials are warning that another strike will again prove costly, up to as much as $4 million, and also might force the hospital to reallocate resources. The walk out comes after a strike authorization vote in mid-January. The Massachusetts Nurses Association told hospital executives on Thursday that if there is no progress made during a negotiating session scheduled for Tuesday, then its roughly 800 members will walk off the job on February 27th. The contract talks have been on and off during the past 17 months.

 

Court Denies New Trial For Pittsfield Man Accused Of Box-Cutter Slashing

A Pittsfield man, convicted in 2012 of slashing a man in the face with a box-cutter has been denied a new trial. The Berkshire Eagle reports that Jeremy Gomes had appealed for a new trial in 2015, following his conviction on charges of mayhem, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and breaking and entering into a vehicle in the nighttime for a felony and his sentencing of up to 12 years in prison. Gomes argued that he had asked the Judge who presided over his trial to provide a jury instruction regarding eyewitness testimony that New Jersey had adopted about one week before his own trial began. Eyewitness identification was at issue in the trial. The SJC ruled in that earlier motion that the judge did not abuse his discretion by not including that instruction in place of the standard adopted jury instruction at use in Massachusetts at the time.

 

Lawmakers Ask EPA To Stick With Plan To Dump PCB’s Out Of State

Toxic waste that is being removed from the Housatonic River should be sent out of state as planned. That’s according to three top lawmakers on Thursday. They say it should not be buried in Berkshire County. The Berkshire Eagle reports that the question of where sediment containing PCB’s  will be disposed is once again in focus after the nation’s top environmental court last month instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to take fresh look at the issue. Three members of the state’s congressional delegation have called on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stick with his agency’s original demand that the General Electric pay to ship material containing PCBs to licensed facilities outside Massachusetts. The letter was sent by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.