For the past several months, Baystate Noble Hospital and representatives of the Massachusetts Nurses Agency have been working to develop and approve new contract terms. Ronald P. Bryant, president of Baystate Noble, offers the following update:
We have been informed that on Wednesday, January 11, 2017, the Massachusetts Nurses Association will conduct an informational picket at Baystate Noble from 11 am to 1 pm. In advance of that, I want to be sure you have clear facts about our contract negotiations.
We come to every bargaining session with a spirit of respect, collegiality, and a desire to efficiently resolve outstanding issues. We value our nurses and we work to ensure our contract proposals reflect a balance of their needs and the needs of the delivery of care to our patients.
Both hospital leadership and our nurses share a clear commitment to quality patient care and a positive work environment. In addition, we make every effort to balance our efforts to provide strong wages and benefits with our continued focus on maintaining Baystate Noble’s financial stability. Below are a few key points about our ongoing negotiations:
- Safe Staffing: We share a clear commitment to patient safety and thoughtful staffing. We are confident that current staffing levels are safe and meet patient care needs. While we fundamentally disagree that staffing patterns should be part of a contract, we have had a positive dialogue with our nursing team about our approach to staffing. In addition, routine labor management meetings provide a regular outlet for discussing any concerns in a timely manner.
- Wages and benefits: The economic proposals we have made are anchored by an increase in wages. We have offered a number of other options that allow us to better align time off, health insurance and other benefits with the hospital’s financial goals and overall workplace policies.
- Work environment: We have a deep respect and appreciation for the longstanding and collegial relationship we have had with our nurses. Any contract language changes are designed to maintain flexibility for the hospital to adapt to a changing health care environment, while maintaining important collective bargaining rights.
We remain committed to offering a fair contract to our nurses that provides strong wages and benefits, supports quality and maintains Baystate Noble as a valued provider of care to our community.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that the environment remains a challenging one. After many years of financial struggle, Baystate Noble is now part of a larger system. This brings great benefits to our hospital and our community – from access to a wider network of health care services to a new-found ability to invest in our health care infrastructure. Nonetheless, we have a continued obligation to ensure that we operate in a way that prudently uses our financial resources and sustains our mission – both a local community hospital and a major employer.
I thank the nurses representing their colleagues at the bargaining table for their positive engagement in the process; we have long been fortunate to have a good relationship with our nurses and I remain hopeful that we will come to agreement on a fair contract very soon.