SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – If you drove by Mercy Medical Center Thursday evening, you might’ve seen a group of nurses lining the sidewalks, holding signs.
Mercy Medical Center nurses lined up outside the hospital as they battle Trinity Health, the corporate owner of Mercy Medical Center, during contract negotiations. It’s been ongoing for some time, their last contract expired in December 2020.
“What’s arguably one of the most difficult times in history as of late with the pandemic going on and management is really stonewalling us in our contract negotiations,” said Alex Wright, a registered nurse, and co-chair of the hospital’s Massachusetts Nurses Association.
It was an informational picket, not a strike, but they are asking for better working conditions. They told 22News it will benefit them and the hospital’s patients.
Here’s what they are asking for from Trinity Health, the corporate owner of Mercy Medical Center:
- Mercy nurses are asking for more staff to ensure high-quality care.
- They are fighting back against Trinity Health’s proposal to penalize nurses for using sick time, proposed cuts to overtime and holidays, and the proposal to change nurses’ schedules at any time without nurse input.
- They are asking for improved health insurance costs and a fair wage increase.
- And the nurses are proposing that if a nurse acquires COVID they receive benefits like workers’ compensation.
“We want to see a fair and equitable contract we want to see a contract that recruits new nurses and retains nurses,” said Jaime Hyatt, a registered nurse, and MNA education officer.
Nurses say right now, Trinity is requiring nurses to use their own sick time until they can “prove” they acquired COVID at work. The nurses picketing are in the process of contract negotiations.
In a statement to 22News, Trinity Health spokeswoman Mary Orr said the hospital is looking forward to working with the nurses and their representatives to reach an agreement on a new contract.
“We remain optimistic because of our shared dedication to the health and wellbeing of our patients who unite us in everything we do,” Orr stated. Her full statement is below:
Mercy Medical Center holds our nurses and all colleagues in the highest regard, valuing their commitment to our community by providing compassionate, healing care to those we serve.
Safety is a Core Value for Mercy Medical Center and we are deeply committed to providing a safe care environment for our patients and a safe working environment for all of our colleagues.
We look forward to working with our nurses and their representatives to reach agreement on a new contract. We remain optimistic because of our shared dedication to the health and wellbeing of our patients who unite us in everything we do.Mary Orr, Communications and Media Specialist for Mercy Medical Center