GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Baystate Franklin nurses will walk off the job in Greenfield Friday morning, after a deal could not be reached with hospital leaders, this week.
209 unionized nurses at Baystate Franklin have stopped working, and will remain on the picket lines until 7:00 Saturday morning.
The sick time policy is one of the sticking points in the labor dispute. Some nurses told 22News that they're weary of calling out because they're afraid of being disciplined if they miss a certain amount of days. But the hospital says the only discipline any workers face, is when they're repeatedly not showing up for their scheduled shift. Baystate Franklin also said it does not force or pressure any of its employees to come in when they're not feeling well.
Another major sticking point is overtime pay. Right now, the nurses get paid time-and-a-half for any extra time they work over their daily shift. However, the hospital's president says they have to switch to weekly overtime pay in order to save money and avoid layoffs.
"This is a very common pay practice among hospitals in Massachusetts, and nothing we're doing here is out of the norm", said Chuck Gijanto, President of Baystate Franklin Medical Center.
Hospital leaders proposed bonus pay for to its registered nurses who agree to work for blocks of four hours or more that are considered "critical to fill".
But Baystate Franklin nurses, like Donna Stern, told 22News, they believe it's unfair.
"When a hospital staffs this way, and then they turn around and don't pay, they get to ignore the staffing problems in the hospital. They get to ignore the unsafe practices that are going on" stated Stern.
Besides Wednesday night's negotiating session, there have been 27 others to date: each one of them ending in a deadlock.
According to Gijanto, the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Baystate have agreed to meet again to negotiate on October 25. "We are eager to get back to the bargaining table and finalize the contract," he said in a statement sent to 22News by Baystate Media Relations.
A contingency plan will be in place at the hospital during the strike. The Emergency Room will be fully staffed, but the Intensive Care Unit will be closed. The Greenfield Police will also be setup around the hospital during the demonstration.
"I just finished doing rounds on the units and things are going very smoothly," Gijanto said. "I think if you were a patient right now, you wouldn't know that there was anything different."
MORE INFORMATION ON HOSPITAL PARKING:
- Hospital patients and visitors can still use the front parking lot on High Street, and enter through the main lobby; or use the Sanderson Street lot and enter through the ground floor entrance.
- Emergency room patients can park in the lot directly outside the Emergency entrance.
- The Beacon Street parking area will be closed throughout the strike period.
- Patients who have appointments at the 48 Sanderson Street building can park in the facility's lot and enter through the main entrance to the side.
- The entrance facing Sanderson Street will be locked for the day.