Brockton Hospital RNs Begin Picketing/Leafleting Board of Trustees Ask
Community to Hold Trustees Accountable for Damage Done by Strike As
Management Refuses to Seriously Negotiate to End 9-Week Strike
Nurses Cite Millions Being Wasted to Prolong a Strike over Patient Care Call
Upon Trustees to Honor Fiduciary Responsibility to Hospital & Community
Attention News Assignment Editors: Nurses Will Picket Two Locations of
Brockton Credit Union (443 Belmont St. and 68 Legion Parkway), Where
Brockton Hospital Trustee James W. Blake is the CEO at 3 p.m. today.
Nurses will also be picketing the home of Brockton Hospital CEO Norman
Goodman (25 Jyra Lane, N. Easton) at 5:30 p.m. today.
BROCKTON, Mass.-As the Brockton Hospital nurses enter the ninth week of
their strike, they have begun picketing and leafleting activity outside the businesses
of the hospital's Board of Trustees, selecting a different trustee each day. The
nurses are using the picketing to generate public pressure on the trustees to take
greater responsibility for the strike and its long-term impact on the future of the
not-for-profit community hospital. The nurses are hoping to convince the trustees to
do what is necessary to convince hospital management to engage in serious
negotiations to reach a fair settlement end the 57-day old strike.
The nurses went on strike on May 25th over their concerns about poor staffing,
mandatory overtime and salary. Since the strike began, only two negotiating
sessions have been held, with no movement made by management to settle the
strike made at either session. The Federal Mediator has scheduled a third round of
negotiations in his office in Boston for Thursday, July 26, 2001 at 10:00 a.m.
"It is clear that management has had no real interest in settling this contract and
ending this strike and will spend millions of the community's dollars to break the
nurses' union," said Linda McMahon, chair of the nurses' bargaining unit, which is
represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "The Board of Trustees has
ultimate oversight authority for this hospital and is sitting by while management
wastes millions of dollars and threatens the very future of this once premier health
care facility. We had been hoping the Board would intercede by now. Nurses and
community members have been writing the board to ask them to do something for
weeks now, and it appears they are supporting the hospital's actions. We want to
remind them that they can't hide from their responsibility."
In flyers to be handed out at each picketing of the trustees, the nurses point to
exorbitant cost of the hospital's continuation of the strike. The cost includes more
than $1 million per week the hospital is spending to hire replacement nurses flown
in by U.S. Nursing Corps of Denver Colorado. The striking nurses have obtained a
copy of a pay stub for one of the 200 nurses the hospital has hired, which reveals
that the nurses are paid upwards of $4,600 per week for their services, not
including room, board and travel expenses paid by the hospital. The nurses are
paid $40 per hour for the first 40 hours they work, and $60 per hour for every
hour of overtime. The pay stub obtained by the Brockton nurses shows this one
nurse worked 84 hours in one week.
The nurses have also obtained information on the cost of the hospital's maintaining a
24-hour police detail outside the hospital. For the month of June, the bill for police
was $480,000 for an average of $120,000 per week. The hospital also employees
more than 30 Pinkerton security guards. The nurses have also learned that the
hospital had hired massage therapists to give massages to the replacement nurses,
paying the massage therapists more than $35 per hour for their services. The
highest paid Brockton nurse before the strike was making just over $30 per hour.
The nurses' flyer asks community members a number of questions concerning the
sources of funding for the continuation of the strike. For example: Is the hospital
using Medicare and Medicaid funds to pay for the strike? Is the hospital's
endowment being used? What will be left of this hospital when this strike finally
comes to end?
The nurses are not alone in their desire for a resolution to the strike. Two weeks
ago, Massachusetts Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy sent a letter
to CEO Norman Goodman and the Board of Trustees asking hospital management
to take the responsibility. On July 17th, 750 citizens and nurses gathered for a
Candlelight Prayer Vigil hosted by the Brockton Clergy Association, which was
held to urge a just resolution to the strike. The hospital administration and trustees
were invited to participate, but chose not to.