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Lockout begins ahead of Baystate Franklin nurses’ 2nd strike

  • Nurses, from left, Robin Neipp, Lily Holt, and Birttany Butler, rally prior to the lockout by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, on Tuesday, April, 10, 2018 in Greenfield. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to go on a 24-hour strike Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Nurses led by union head Donna Stern, center, rally prior to the lockout by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, on Tuesday in Greenfield. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to go on a 24-hour strike Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • People rally in support of nurses prior to the lockout by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, on Tuesday, April, 10, 2018 in Greenfield. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to go on a 24-hour strike Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Union head Donna Stern, right, talks to those gathered after the lockout by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, on Tuesday, April, 10, 2018 in Greenfield. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to go on a 24-hour strike Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • People rally in support of nurses after the lockout by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, on Tuesday, April, 10, 2018 in Greenfield. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to go on a 24-hour strike Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • People march on their way to rally in support of nurses prior to the lockout by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, on Tuesday, April, 10, 2018 in Greenfield. The local chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association plans to go on a 24-hour strike Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

GREENFIELD — Donna Stern, the head of the local nurses union, said she wanted to help her fellow nurses as a lockout was set to begin Tuesday evening in advance of a strike Wednesday.

As she tried to walk into Baystate Franklin Medical Center, she was denied entry by four Greenfield Police Department officers who were manning the entrance. A video shows officers stopping her from entering the building. The four local officers linked arms in front of the doorway before the lockout began.

Stern claims it was her right as a union leader to enter the building.

“They should be ashamed of themselves,” Stern said about the police, and then pointed to her wool scarf she bought from a co-op. “Do I look threatening? I’m just a union steward trying to do the right thing.”

Below is a video provided by the nurses’ union. The voice being heard is that of Jillian Sicard, a member of the union’s bargaining team:

Stern said the union, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, will be filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. She called the incident with the police an “absolute violation of the (labor) law.”

The day prior, the nurses announced the regional board of the federal body found merit to a handful of the union’s charges filed back around the last strike, including one charge that reads Baystate Franklin Medical Center “unlawfully interfered with, restrained, and coerced bargaining unit employees … by threatening two union representatives, who were engaged in union activity in the employer’s facility in accordance with an existing practice, with arrest if they remained within the employer’s facility and by having security guards escort” them out.

The hospital said this was a matter of protecting patients.

“Because our goal is maintaining a focus on safe patient care, we are being particularly cautious about activities that could disrupt operations; this includes actions being taken to generate news coverage,” Baystate Health Spokeswoman Shelly Hazlett said in a statement about the incident. “We believe being conservative in these matters is in the best interest of patients.”

Police detail

The hospital has hired the Greenfield Police Department as a security detail this week for activities related to the strike. The hospital is locking out its nurses, preventing them from crossing the picket line and bringing in traveling nurses from Tuesday evening to Friday evening to fill the void. The hospital said Monday the total cost of the strike will be about $1 million.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh said after watching video footage of the incident with Stern and his police officers from Tuesday evening, “They are there to keep the peace, and no arrests were made.”

He said they were following instructions, and said he was glad there were no arrests.

“If we were preventing people from going inside, that was done at the direction of the people that put us out there,” Haigh said about the hospital. “We wouldn’t have done that on our own.”

Wednesday morning, the nurses will begin their 24-hour strike at 7 a.m. There will be rallies at noon and 5 p.m.

The nurses and hospital administration have been at odds over a contract for about a year and a half. The main issue is about staffing.

Lockout

The rally around the start of the lockout Tuesday night drew a crowd of about 75 people, including dozens of nurses, and lasted about two hours.

A few Greenfield City Councilors, Tim Dolan, Otis Wheeler and Sheila Gilmour showed up in support; City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud was present but as an employee of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

“I’ve been a union supporter for a long time,” Dolan said. “I believe we need to support our nurses and safe patient care.”

Wheeler added, “If there is anything I can do as a city councilor, I would be more than happy to.”

Stern noted the hospital is nonprofit and does not pay taxes locally. She said the hospital should be responsible for the residents. Instead, she said the hospital is run by a “fat cat,” “corporate bully” and like a “Wall Street executive.”

“They continue to bully, intimidate and think they can behave however they want,” Stern said afterward. “At the end of the day, they should be ashamed.”

The hospital referred to patient care in an emailed statement at the beginning of the lockout.

“We remain focused on providing quality care and will not be distracted by the disruptive and divisive tactics orchestrated by union leadership,” Interim President Ron Bryant said in his statement. “The experienced temporary nurses are at the hospital now, providing the seamless quality care our patients deserve.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264