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BMC Nurses Give Bargaining Committee OK to Call 2nd Strike
Staff Reports,
12:08AM / Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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The nurses had gone out on strike in October and could do it again.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The registered nurses at Berkshire Medical Center on Tuesday approved giving the bargaining committee the authority to call a second one-day strike.

The local Massachusetts Nurses Association chapter has been at odds with management for nearly a year and a half of contract negotiations. In October, the nurses staged a one-day strike, which was followed by a four-day lockout by management. The two sides returned to the bargaining table shortly afterward and have yet to come to a settlement.

After two days of voting concluding Tuesday night, the union's membership voted to again give its bargaining committee the authority to call a one-day strike. The vote doesn't necessarily mean there will be another strike, but the committee now has the authority to call one.

"Our community and our patients need to be able to hold Berkshire Medical Center accountable for providing safe patient care at all times," said Alex Neary, co-chair of the union's bargaining committee, in a statement released Tuesday evening.

"We brought our concerns to the public with a one-day strike in October and since then hospital administrators have refused to move on our key issues. This is completely unacceptable. It is why today nurses have sent a clear message to BMC: Negotiate a fair contract that protects our patients!"

The union said 82 percent of the union's voters approved the authorization. Should the bargaining committee call a strike, there is a 10-day notice required.
 
The two sides have been particularly at issue over staffing levels and health insurance. The union has particularly focused on increasing staffing levels, saying units are often unsafely staffed.

"The No. 1 priority of a hospital should be to provide safe, quality patient care,” said Gerri Jakacky, co-chair of the bargaining committee, in a statement.

"Our nurses have for years identified problems, and for years BMC has ignored our concerns. Why won’t hospital administrators take the money they get from the public and use it to ensure the public is safe rather than spend it on forcing nurses to strike and locking them out of their own hospital for days afterward? Our proposals to eliminate or limit patient assignments for charge nurses and maintain nurse staffing at the hospital’s own current level are reasonable ways to ensure patient safety."

The unionized nurses have been without a contract since September 2016. In May, the nurses rejected the hospital's "best and final offer." In July, the nurses gave the committee the authority to call a second strike, which was followed by a September notification of a strike.

On the morning of Oct. 4, the nurses left their shift to join their colleagues on the picket line. The following morning, they were locked out because the hospital said it had to sign a five-day contract with replacement nurses to fill the shifts.

After a four-day lockout, the nurses went back to work. Since then, there have been four bargaining sessions in which both sides have reported that progress was being made on some of the issues. But the union said the hospital still hasn't moved far enough on the staffing issues.

The union then scheduled the second vote in hopes to send a strong message to management.

Brenda Cadorette, BMC's chief nursing officer, released a letter to nurses after being informed about the second authorization vote saying management was "both surprised and disappointed" in the authorization vote.

"As a result of that sharing of ideas, at the third post-strike session, we responded to the bargaining committee's safety proposals with some modified language that, after some discussion, the hospital and the union were able to find a way to resolve these important safety and security issues," she wrote, but added further on that "we have continuing disagreements about how the charge nurse function is addressed in the MNA collective bargaining agreement."
 
The bargaining has been ongoing with the assistance of a federal mediator. 
 
Ongoing Coverage
 
 
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Talks Continue Between BMC, Nurses; 2nd Strike...

January 08, 2018 | 03:35PM

The unionized nurses at Berkshire Medical Center will be voting again to give the bargaining committee the authority to call a one-day strike. Berkshire Medical Center management and the hospital's Massachusetts Nurses Association chapter have been at an impasse in negotiations for a year and a half. In October, a one-day strike was held, followed by a four-day lockout when the two sides couldn't reach a settlement.

 
 
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Who Withdrew?: MNA Mixes Up Labor Board Complaints

October 18, 2017 | 02:16AM

The Massachusetts Nursing Association has withdrawn one of the multiple unfair labor practice charges it filed against Berkshire Medical Center. In July, the registered nurses' union filed a charge against a new absentee policy the hospital's administration had established. The claim was that there was a modification to the contract because the new policy was not negotiated. The union said the hospital broadened the circumstances around absences for discipline.

 
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Striking Nurses Get Support From Other Labor Unions

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Nurses Association Rallies In North Adams Over Lockout

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BMC Management Focusing On Inside While Nurses Strike Outside

The unionized nurses at Berkshire Medical Center are certainly making their voices known this week, as they picket outside of the hospital.

 
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BMC Nurses Strike; Picket Hospital

Nurses at Berkshire Medical Center went 36 years without a labor strike. But that was until Tuesday. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nursing Association took to the picket line on Tuesday after a year of contract negotiations have seemingly hit a wall. The union and supporters gathered just outside of the property line, forming two lines and holding signs, awaiting the nurses ending their shift at 7 a.m. to walk through.

 
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BMC Nurses Hold Vigil Prior To Strike

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BMC Administration: Patient Care Will Be Unobstructed By Strike

Berkshire Medical Center brass say they've taken proper precautions to make sure patient care is uninterrupted during the strike and subsequent lock out. "We fully expect that our operations will be as they are any other day. If you are a patient and you need to be here with us or you are scheduled to be here and it is elective, it will be no different than it was any other day," said Berkshire Health Systems President David Phelps during a briefing with the media on Tuesday.

 
 
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Judge Denies BMC's Request To Halt Strike

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BMC Asks Court To Halt Nurses Union Strike

The hospital is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the nurses strike. Berkshire Medical Center filed for an injunction in federal court, claiming the Massachusetts Nursing Association had not followed contractual obligations prior to calling a strike. The union, however, asserts that the strike is legal and is continued to take to the picket lines on Tuesday.

 
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Registered Nurses Notify BMC of One-Day Strike

The Massachusetts Nurses Association delivered a 10-day notice to hospital management on Friday notifying it of the local bargaining unit's intent to hold a one-day unfair labor practice strike beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, and running until 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

 
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BMC Files Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Against...

The hospital has fired back at the MNA with its own complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. Berkshire Health Systems has filed a complaint alleging that the nursing union is not bargaining in good faith, and even "surface bargaining" - a term used to describe bargaining without trying to actually reach a settlement.

 
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BMC Nurses Release Contents Of 'Unsafe Staffing' Reports

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BMC Nurses Looking to Trustees to Help Contract Negotiations

BMC nurses are now making a pitch to get the hospital's Board of Trustees on their side. The Massachusetts Nurses Association has been in challenging contract negotiations with the hospital. After what call a fairly unproductive negotiating session on Tuesday, the nurses are attempting to meet with members of the Board of Trustees.

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Nurses File Second Unfair Labor Practices Against BMC

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BMC Nurses: No Resolution Found In Latest Bargaining Session

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BMC Nurses Take Second Step Toward Strike

The nurses at Berkshire Medical Center have taken the second step toward a strike. The Massachusetts Nursing Association filed a notification to end the existing agreement. The contract currently in place prohibits a strike and while the contract had an expiration date of September 2016, the duration clauses continued that unless a 30-day notice from either side was made or a new contract was signed, the existing one remained in place.

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BMC Nurses Give Bargaining Committee Authority to Call Strike

The registered nurses at Berkshire Medical Center are willing to strike over contract negotiations for what they say is chronic understaffing.

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BMC, Nurses Return to Bargaining as Strike Hangs Over Head

In the middle of a strike authorization vote and the union filing charges against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Nursing Association and Berkshire Medical Center return to the bargaining table Thursday in hopes to come to an agreement on a new contract.

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BMC Nurses Reject Hospital's 'Best and Final' Offer

The nurses at Berkshire Medical Center have rejected the hospital's "best and final offer." The union put the hospital's offer to a member vote on Wednesday and the nurses rejected the offer.

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BMC, Nurses Remain at Odds During Contract Negotiations

Berkshire Medical Center has presented what it says will be its "best and final offer" to settle a contract with the nursing union. A letter sent out by President David Phelps and Chief Operating Officer Diane Kelly was released on Wednesday outlining the hospital's offer. The Massachusetts Nurses Association and BMC have been at an impasse as the two sides try to negotiate a new three-year contract. The current one expired in September.

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Nurses Picket BMC As Staffing Issues Hold Up Collective Bargaining

Nurses and supporters paced back and forth along North Street and Wahconah, holding signs, chanting "if we're out here, something is wrong in there." On the otherside of those walls, the administration is reviewing data showing Berkshire Medical Center ranking in the top when it comes to patient safety and preparing a forum to celebrate those numbers with employees. Outside, the nurses chant that the staffing levels are unsafe. Inside, a staffing office is reviewing the personnel on hand to m

 

 

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