Minimal Movement by the MNA Results in Disappointing Day of NegotiatingMay 6, 2021
Hospital makes additional concessions, but the union won’t compromise
Worcester, MA – Yesterday, Saint Vincent Hospital returned to the bargaining table in the sincere hope of reaching an agreement and bringing all of its nurses back to work. The Hospital offered the same staffing language as the UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMass) collective bargaining agreement given the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) public requests for SVH to adopt UMass staffing. Unfortunately, after extended negotiations and further concessions, the MNA remained unwilling to compromise. The evening ended without an agreement but with a counter proposal from the MNA that was not just about staffing, despite their claims.
Instead of agreeing to the UMass staffing language, which it had supported over a dozen times publicly, the MNA presented a counterproposal that took the best parts from the UMass contract, the existing Saint Vincent contract, last Saint Vincent proposal, and added even more on top of that. This included:
- Staffing language that coupled the UMass contract with the Saint Vincent pre-existing grids, significantly restricting the ability to quickly move patients from the ED or the OR to inpatient units
- Continued insistence of 4:1 on med/surg floors on day and evening shifts
- Increase in wages greater than the already generous Saint Vincent proposal
- Addition of another step for RNs at the top of the wage scale despite SVH already having 5 more steps to its wage scale than UMass
- Removal of key language around floating that exists in the UMass staffing language
- Continued request for a defined benefit pension plan
Despite this, the hospital took the time to thoughtfully consider the MNA’s proposal and responded with a counterproposal that contained substantial movement from the Hospital’s May 1 proposal. It included several additional concessions, including:
- Effective January 1, 2022, health insurance premiums for all nurses who work 24 or more hours per week will move to an 80/20 split from the first day of employment
- Per diem II nurse wage increases of 13% to 17% retroactive to January 1, 2021
- Commitment to maintaining its metal detector in the Emergency Department 24/7, which the Hospital implemented in early February 2021
- Additional adjustments to resource nurse language
- Additional guidelines that ensure some nurses have a 4 patient assignment on med/surg units
- Additional ED staffing in three areas of the ED, including triage
- Adjustment of acute care stat RN language
- Addition of two float secretaries on the 11 pm to 7 am shift
In response to this additional substantial movement on key issues, the MNA presented a response in which it did not make any modifications to Staffing, Resource Nurses, or Wages to their proposal. In addition, it continued to maintain its proposal for a defined benefit pension plan, even though it has never provided the hospital with any details whatsoever as to the design of the plan or the contributions sought from the hospital.
At the end of the session, the hospital asked the federal mediator to encourage the union to vote the hospital’s offer. This would give the nurses the choice to accept or reject the hospital’s most recent proposal. If the MNA continues to refuse to compromise, the hospital will be left to prepare for a prolonged strike given the apparent unwillingness of the MNA to reach a resolution.