GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - After 25 failed negotiation sessions, Baystate Franklin Medical Center's unionized nurses have authorized a strike. That means with just a 10-days notice, nurses can refuse to work until they negotiate a new contract.
Health insurance costs, paid sick days and overtime pay... These issues are at the center of this disagreement between the nurses who are represented by the Mass. Nurses Association and Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield.
Donna Stern told 22News, the nurses have had the same contract for nearly 30 years.
"When I came 5 years ago, I had different choices for health insurance," she said. "The only choice I'm offered now is Health New England."
Some nurses told 22News, they are afraid to take sick time because after three days or more, they could get written up. Or if it happens again, they could get fired. But the president of the hospital said, those incidents have been rare.
Nurses also said, they want to continue to qualify for overtime pay when they work a long day.
But the hospital's president said, transitioning to a weekly overtime will save the hospital thousands of dollars.
Chuck Gijanto, the President of Baystate Health Systems, told 22News, "We've been in a situation where most hospitals in the state are in where Medicare and Medicaid payments have declined. The perfect storm of reduced payments, falling volumes and increased cost."
But Stern said, "It's not about money. It's about keeping our bargaining rights intact and keeping our contract intact."
The next meeting will be on September 19th. Donna Stern, the union's spokeswoman said they will most likely wait and see what the hospital has to offer before a strike notice is issued.