In full transparency, the press release and the photo were submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
MILFORD – The more than 500 registered nurses of Milford Regional Medical Center, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted overwhelmingly on November 16 to ratify their first collective bargaining agreement after unionizing in 2021 and working together to secure improvements to patient care, working conditions, wages, and benefits.
“Our MNA contract will immediately benefit nurses and patients and will make a positive impact in our community for years to come,” said Sara Burton, MP1 nurse at MRMC and Co-Chair of the MNA Bargaining Committee. “Milford Regional Medical Center nurses are amazing caregivers and have shown that working together gives us strength to overcome a global pandemic or any challenge thrown our way. This contract values our dedication to patient care and will help us provide the conditions to recruit and retain the nurses we need.”
“Through our unionization and during first contract bargaining we benefited from the support we showed each other as colleagues and backing from our community,” said Christina Buxton, 5th FL nurse at MRMC and Secretary of the BMC MNA Bargaining Committee. “The result is a contract that Milford nurses were extremely proud to ratify and that will ultimately benefit everyone connected to our hospital.”
Contract Agreement Highlights
o Every MNA nurse will receive an increase each year through the establishment of a wage step scale that guarantees nurses annual raises. There will be 4% between each step, with a nurse’s placement on the scale depending on skill year and retroactive pay to April 3, 2022.
o In addition to the scale and its associated annual raises, there will be a total of 8.5% across-the-board raises for every nurse over the next two years.
o The contract guarantees that charge nurses will be without a patient assignment or have a reduced patient assignment on in-patient units. Also, nurse educators are an additional resource for nurses during the 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. period.
· Charge nurses provide a valuable role overseeing the assignment of patients among other staff on a unit, ensuring an efficient flow of patients in and out of the unit, communicating with physicians and others to ensure patients receive the care they need and most importantly, providing an extra pair of hands when a patient crisis occurs. This role cannot properly be fulfilled when they are also expected to have a full patient assignment.
o Overtime will take effect for Milford nurses once they reach a point where they are working one hour past their shift, or more than 40 hours in a week.
o For health insurance purposes, nurses will be considered full-time at 32 hours per week.
o The agreement secures just cause, which is a well-established and universally recognized standard in labor law. This contract provision will provide nurses protection against arbitrary or unfair discipline. This helps ensure that nurses can advocate for patients and colleagues without fear of retaliation.
o The contract includes a grievance and arbitration process. These contract clauses — part of all MNA contracts — are a crucial tool for addressing and rectifying violations of the contract.
Long-standing issues negatively impacting Milford nurses and their patients were made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and prompted nurses to seek to join the MNA in December 2020. Nurses voting overwhelmingly to join the MNA in February 2021. Soon after, Milford nurses elected their colleagues to represent them and began the process of negotiating a first union contract. More solidarity actions followed, including within the hospital such as Black Scrubs Fridays and outside including a rally held on the one-year anniversary of unionizing.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 25,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on healthcare issues affecting nurses and the public.