Unionized nurses locked out of Baystate Franklin ahead of Wednesday’s strike

Franklin County
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Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield has prepared for Wednesday’s nurses strike. Patients at the hospital’s intensive care unit were transferred to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield ahead of the strike.

Dozens of unionized nurses protested outside the medical center Tuesday night ahead of Wednesday’s strike as contract negotiations have come to a stand still. 

“It seems like its become a yearly thing, or contractual yearly thing,” said Laura Looman, a former patient at the hospital. “It’s sad that it’s happening as often as it’s happened. I’ve used the emergency room, I delivered both of my children there. I hope it gets resolved quickly.”

This is the second time in less than a year that a strike has been called. The unionized nurses say they want higher staffing levels written into their contracts, and better wages and healthcare.

According to a news release from the hospital, Baystate Franklin is urging the nurses union to bring their most recent contract  proposal to it’s members for a vote.

Protesting nurses were blocked from entering the hospital Tuesday.

Baystate Franklin’s Interim President Ron Bryant referred to the union leadership’s tactics as “divisive and disruptive.” A lockout of the nurses began at 7 p.m. Tuesday and is set to go on until 7 p.m. Friday.

Bryant said temporary nurses will be providing quality care. The unionized nurses have planned to picket outside of the hospital starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“A nurse does not want to go on strike, do you think I want to go on strike?” I don’t want to go on strike,” said Donna Stern, registered nurse and co-chair of the Nurses Bargaining Unit. “But I also don’t want to keep enduring what we’re enduring without having some relief.”

The hospital was unavailable for an interview, but said they urge the union to vote on their latest contract proposal, which included a 4.9 percent pay increase, requested healthcare changes, and
wrote certain staffing requirements into the contract.

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