January 26, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cooley Dickinson, MNA Reach Tentative Contract Agreement
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Cooley Dickinson Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract at approximately 2 am Tuesday, reflecting mutual commitment on both sides to settle the contract.
The tentative agreement was reached after a long session during which issues regarding staffing and wages were worked out, some with assistance from a federal mediator.
“After many long months of meetings and give-and-take on both sides, the RN Negotiating Committee is pleased to have come to an equitable end to our negotiations with management,” said Sally Surgen, Chair, CDH/MNA Nurses Committee. “We are grateful for the support of our fellow nurses and the community. We look forward to moving on to the new affiliation/partnership.”
CDH President Craig Melin said, “We join the Nurses Committee in being pleased with the final settlement. Though the long negotiations process was difficult at times, we look forward to a joint renewed commitment to maintaining and improving on our high standards for patient care. The registered nurses at CDH are key contributors to our hospital’s status among the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation when it comes to patient safety.”
The agreement, which the parties began negotiating 17 months ago, includes language that establishes a joint MNA-Hospital Staffing Committee to monitor staffing and charge nurse assignments and review potential adjustments to staffing.
The wage agreement includes a 1 percent ratification bonus effective Jan. 22, 2012 (the beginning of year two of the contract) and a 1 percent increase for nurses at the top of the wage scale, also effective Jan. 22.
In addition, the agreement will address the hospital’s goal to make wages for new nurses more competitive in the marketplace — they’d fallen below the marketplace, impairing the hospital’s ability to recruit new nurses — by moving nurses at the bottom of the wage scale up several steps, also as of Jan. 22. On July 22, all MNA nurses will receive a 1 percent increase.
In year 3, the agreement includes a 1 percent increase to Step 30 on Jan. 22, 2013, and a 1 percent across-the-board increase on July 22, 2013.
The wage agreement provides increases to nurses while also allowing the hospital to hold the line on costs, a critical step given that Cooley Dickinson has reduced prices to make care more affordable for members of the community.
The parties also agreed:
• That nurses hired after the ratification date of the contract will be eligible to participate only in the hospital’s 403(b) retirement program, with a core contribution from the hospital and a match of employee contributions up to 6 percent. Currently employed RNs in the bargaining unit will have until June 30, 2012, to make a choice to stay in the current pension plan or switch to the 403(b) plan.
• To include successor language that MNA proposed in the contract. The language will require a new owner to honor the terms of the MNA contract. Successor language was one of the key goals of the MNA Committee given that Cooley Dickinson’s Trustees are expected to decide at the end of February whether to join Baystate Medical Center or Massachusetts General Hospital.
The MNA has scheduled a ratification vote for Feb. The MNA Committee indicated it would recommend ratification of the contract to its membership.