WAREHAM, MASSACHUSETTS – Tobey Hospital’s 150 registered nurses, unionized with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, received a ratified contract and a National Labor Relations Board settlement recently that put closure to a three-year contract dispute. According to the Massachusetts Nurses Association website, “The new two-year contract and NLRB settlement agreement, although separate, were packaged together as a part of a single ratification vote that happened on March 8. The nurses overwhelmingly voted in favor of ratifying the agreement. It results in wage increases for all RNs, as well as payments of as much as $10,000 for staff part of the NLRB settlement.”
The MNA website states that three years ago the managers at Southcoast Hospitals Group, the owner and operator of Tobey Hospital, declared impasse after eight bargaining sessions with the nurses for a successor contract.
“With that declaration, management then unilaterally and illegally implemented numerous changes to the contract that resulted in significant wage and benefit losses for the nurses. Those changes included freezing wages, eliminating holidays, and cutting contributions to nurses’ 403b plans. It also meant that the nurses were unable to continue negotiating their successor contract with management, leaving other important issues to languish indefinitely,” according to the website.
The MNA, on behalf of the Tobey nurses, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB “stating that Southcoast Hospitals Group had illegally declared impasse and thus had also illegally implemented said changes to the contract, accord.”
According to the MNA website, “On July 31 of 2015 the NLRB’s general counsel, in support of the nurses, issued a complaint against Southcoast saying that the hospital group had in fact violated the National Labor Relations Act. The long-term dispute was resolved in March of 2016 when the NLRB ruled entirely in favor of the nurses.” The hospital agreed to a settlement with the Tobey nurses. The results were voted on and ratified” on March 8.
Southcoast Health spokesperson Peter Cohenno stated, “this settlement brings the nurses at Tobey Hospital to parity with other nurses within our system. As such, this will support and improve our ability for retention and recruitment of nursing staff at Tobey.”