Cooley Dickinson Hospital and the Massachusetts Nursing Association Reach Agreement
Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Nurses Association reached an agreement today on a work contract that promises safer staffing levels at the hospital and higher wages for nurses. New England Public Radio's Julia Botero reports that the agreement comes after more than year of difficult negotiations.
Patti Williams is a union representative with the nurses union. She says over the last few years the nurses have seen layoffs and staff reductions that stretched nurses too far. The new agreement would require that the hospital and nurses work together to resolve staffing issues in various hospital departments. She says she will encourage the nurses to approve the agreement when it comes to a vote on February 6th.
"You always want more. Times are hard right now so I think in terms of what we got I think we did a very good job," said Williams.
Under the contract, new hires would be enrolled in a retirement plans whose benefits, nurses say, will not be as good as those for existing workers. The issue was a point of contention for months between nurses and the hospital. Dianne Cutillo was a member of the hospital's negotiating team. She says the hospital's financial position made the new retirement plan necessary. Overall, she says she's relieved a consensus has been reached.
"These nurses are one of the main reasons why our quality and safety has been judged in the top five percent in the country by health grades so we are looking forward to hoping that the nurses ratify on February 6th and moving forward," says Cutillo.
If approved, the contract will be effective through 2013 and affect over 300 nurses.