Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Some UMass Memorial nurses plan to strike

Union officials representing 1,100 nurses spent four hours negotiating Monday, and no negotiation sessions are planned before a strike scheduled to start at 6 a.m. Thursday.

“We are disappointed by management’s refusal to negotiate a settlement to this contract, yet we are committed to standing up for patients and our union rights,” said Margaret McLaughlin, a nurse and co-chairwoman of the University Campus bargaining unit.

Hospital management expressed disappointment but say the hospital has spent $4 million to hire temporary nurses.

Nurses who work at the Memorial and Hahnemann campuses reached a contract agreement last week and are not planning to strike.

UMass Memorial Health Care President and CEO Eric Dickson said in a statement that the University Campus bargaining unit came in with a proposal that “far exceeded the agreed-upon terms” of the Memorial-Hahnemann package accepted Friday.

“As the Medical Center has repeatedly informed the MNA, it has already incurred significant costs to prepare for the threatened strike,” Dickson said.

The Telegram & Gazette reported that the union and hospital management are at an impasse over staffing levels, especially at night. Nurses want the hospital to set a patient-to-nurse ratio of 5-to-1. The Massachusetts Nurses Association says it’s now 7-to-1.

Nurses and administrators also disagree on pensions, vacation time and other issues.

UMass Memorial says University Campus will be “fully operational” during the strike.

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Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com

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