Massachusetts nurses protest over staffing levels and health coverage

By Jacob Perasso
May 7, 2018

GREENFIELD, Mass. — Two hundred members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association held a one-day protest strike at Baystate Franklin Medical Center here April 11. At issue is staffing levels and health insurance for nurses, who haven’t had a contract since 2017.

“There are a lot of labor struggles going on. Teachers are on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma and elsewhere. This is part of that,” Patrick Burke, an organizer for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459, said at a rally on the picket line.

“My schedule looks like Swiss cheese. They gave me six weeks of schedules in advance with hundreds of hours of holes in it!” Donna Stern, senior co-chair of the union’s bargaining committee, told the rally.

The Medical Center locked out the nurses a day before and after the strike, saying they had to hire replacement nurses for three days. During that time the union held at least five rallies and organized a “Baystate Bankers, Bigwigs and Business Owners Brigade,” where nurses and their supporters picketed in front of Baystate offices and businesses owned or operated by members of the hospital board of trustees.

“I came to the rally because I know and trust the nurses and what they stand for,” said Woody Bliss, who goes to the medical center for chemotherapy. “Baystate is trying to cut corners. Adequate staffing is important.”