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Saint Vincent Explains Benefits of 3rd Proposal, Resource Nurses

Jun 28, 2021

Third alternative includes staffing language recently agreed upon by MNA

Worcester, MA – June 28, 2021 – Saint Vincent Hospital sent a third proposal to the mediator on Friday, June 25, as part of a sincere, thoughtful effort to reach agreement and end this prolonged strike. When the mediator reached out to the MNA on Friday, they specified Sunday, June 27, at 10 a.m. as the time for the mediator to present this third alternative to them.

Within hours of the MNA bargaining committee receiving the proposal yesterday morning, they derided and rejected it through tweets and media statements, and mischaracterized the proposal as a step backward. Had the local MNA bargaining committee taken the time to fully evaluate it relative to their focus on staffing, or contact other MNA bargaining units to evaluate why it made sense in other hospitals very similar to Saint Vincent Hospital, the union would have realized that this new alternative proposal would significantly advance staffing at the hospital.

This third alternative is just that: an alternative to the proposals the MNA previously rejected. It is grounded in careful consideration of what other hospitals and other MNA bargaining units have been able to agree upon in the last few months. It has been presented instead of, not in addition to, options 1 and 2. Therefore, it cannot possibly be a step backward.

This third proposal provides enhanced resource nurse staffing by offering one resource nurse, regardless of patient census, on day and evening shift for all med/surg units, as well as incremental resource nurses in other areas of the hospital. It also includes limits on how many patients these resource nurses can take, so they will be available to help other nurses or to assist with unique circumstances that arise.

This resource nurse rich option was informed by – and is more generous than – other contracts the MNA has recently settled across Massachusetts at hospitals with baseline staffing below that of Saint Vincent Hospital. Resource nurses are registered nurses who assist other nurses in patient care. These experienced nurses offer direct support, ensuring there is an extra set of hands to help nurses with a full patient assignment. Because resource nurses are not factored in when determining the nurse-to-patient ratio, this effectively improves the ratio even further than the staffing we already offer at Saint Vincent Hospital.

Prior to presenting this third proposal, Saint Vincent Hospital presented two other significant options for the MNA to consider. Each one was rejected by the MNA bargaining committee without a meaningful counterproposal.

The first option was presented on April 26 and was a culmination of multiple escalating offers by the hospital. That option focused on improving staffing ratios in certain areas and added a staffing audit committee made up of representatives from both the hospital and nurses to ensure compliance with the staffing guidelines in the contract. It also included expedited arbitration language if the hospital is found to be out of compliance with the contract, and that arbitration language was taken directly from the MNA’s proposal. The MNA rejected this option.

A second option was presented during the last discussion between Saint Vincent Hospital and the MNA, which took place on May 5. It focused on the MNA’s public praising of staffing at UMass and request that Saint Vincent Hospital staff like UMass. It included staffing, flexing and floating language identical to the UMass contract that the MNA has praised, and it even added five more staffing concessions beyond what UMass has. The MNA rejected this option too without a meaningful counterproposal.

As Saint Vincent Hospital explained to the mediator of these negotiations, each of these three options were distinct alternatives for the bargaining committee’s consideration. Since the first two options were rejected, the hospital prepared a third option that was presented yesterday and is not additive to any prior proposals.

Saint Vincent Hospital sincerely hopes the MNA bargaining committee will carefully review the proposal and take the bargaining process seriously.