At hospitals where the MNA represents the nurses, the contract between the MNA and the hospital typically contains a “grievance and arbitration” process through which nurses can use to challenge actions taken by management. In those contracts, the nurses pay dues or an agency fee in part for the costs incurred by the MNA to bring grievances on the nurses’ behalf. Unfortunately, this process does not always work the way the MNA wants you to believe.
In fact, a few years ago a nurse filed an unfair labor practice charge against the MNA alleging the MNA violated its duty to fairly represent her after the MNA told her it was filing a grievance on her behalf, but filed it after the filing deadline had passed. The nurse alleged that the arbitrator denied the grievance because the MNA filed it late and that the denial of her grievance cost her 18 years of seniority.
Why would you pay the MNA to represent you if you cannot even trust it to meet a simple filing deadline? Would you hire an accountant to file your tax returns if a friend told you she missed the April 15 deadline on his return?
One more thing — the nurse also alleged the MNA representative failed to fairly represent her because they had a negative opinion of her case. You could do a better job advocating for yourself than rather than relying on someone who might not even believe in you and your case.
April 22: Recent Media Coverage of the MNA
We have been sharing our views of the MNA’s behavior on this website for several months now. We thought it would be helpful for you to see what local media outlets are saying about them.
“Quincy Medical nurses end strike; layoffs begin,” Patriot Ledger, April 12, 2013:
About two-dozen nurses at a time, wielding noisemakers and wearing blue shirts, marched in front of the hospital for 24 hours beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday. It was the first strike in Quincy Medical Center’s history, and the first in the area since nurses at Brockton Hospital, now called Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, went on strike in 2001. That strike lasted 103 days and became the second-longest in state history.
The nurses’ contract expired in Jan. 2011, and they have yet to agree to one under the ownership of Steward Health Care, the for-profit company that purchased the struggling hospital in bankruptcy court in 2011.
“As a nurse myself, I find that ridiculous,” [Quincy Medical Center President Daniel Knell] said. “I see the care they give, so I’m a little confused about why they would walk out and talk about how bad their own care that they give is, when it’s not. They give great care.”
“Nurses say UMass Memorial staffing levels are 'dangerous, deplorable',” www.necn.com, April 11, 2013
Nurses are saying that staffing levels are dangerous, and, although they don’t want to strike, they’ll do what they have to do to protect their patients.
Registered nurse Colleen Wolfe says it is absolutely dangerous and unacceptable.
“Patients are suffering because of it. There’s no question about that.”
Wolfe says staffing levels at the campuses of UMass Memorial Medical Center are unsafe.
“Staffing is just absolutely deplorable.”
“Nurses protest for patient care, hospital says paychecks.” Eagle Tribune, April 6, 2013
Nurses took to the street near Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill yesterday to call attention to what they think is an alarming trend at some local hospitals.
The nurses, all of whom are members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, say they are trying to call attention to dangerous staffing levels at local hospitals mandated by their for-profit owners Steward Health Care and Cerebus Capital Management.
But Steward spokesman Christopher Murphy disputed those statements, saying the rally was more about paychecks than patient care.
”The quality and safety of Merrimack Valley Hospital are excellent,” Murphy said. “The MNA’s patient safety claims are wrong, their staffing ratio claims are wrong, their claims about wait times are wrong, and all this is an attempt to gain leverage at the bargaining table.”
April 15: When the MNA Fails to Deliver Promises
The MNA makes lots of promises to nurses about positive changes it will make in the workplace. But when the MNA fails to deliver on those promises, it tries to strong-arm hospitals into agreeing to its proposals by publicly embarrassing them. We have seen this recently at Quincy Medical Center where the MNA published a report about the “Patient Care Crisis” at QMC and took the nurses on strike over what it claims is unsafe staffing at the hospital.
In recent months and years, the MNA has leveled similar criticisms against Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, Merrimack Valley Hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, St. Vincent Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, and UMass Medical Center. The MNA says the same thing about each of these hospitals – that they do not provide safe care because of their purported unsafe staffing levels. These hospitals are large and small, teaching hospitals and community hospitals, and are located all around the state. Given these differences, it seems likely that these hospitals face very different challenges from one another. Yet, the MNA has the same answer for all of them – criticize the care they give and claim that their staffing is unsafe.
This is not a productive approach to problem solving and it is not an effective means of changing staffing patterns. If it were effective, the MNA would not have to make these same claims over and over again at these hospitals. While the MNA’s negative approach to these issues is not effective or conducive to building community support for a hospital, it is expensive. All of these glossy reports and picket signs cost money. In fact they cost so much money that the MNA recently told the hospitals where it represents nurses that it is increasing dues again. Did the MNA tell you about this dues increase? If not, ask them about it. Effective July 1, 2013, the MNA is increasing its minimum dues by almost 2% and increasing its maximum dues by almost 4%. The new minimum dues work out to be nearly $800/year while the new maximum dues are nearly $1,000/year. That is a lot of money.
What could you do with that kind of money other than what the MNA does -- funding attacks on your hospital? Would you rather spend your time and money attacking the hospital with the MNA or working collaboratively with your managers and the hospital administration to continue to improve upon the excellent care we provide our patients?
March 22: Is this the type of organization you want to represent you?
When the MNA tries to sell nurses on unionizing, they often talk to nurses about the importance of seniority and the strength gained from solidarity. Many nurses have learned the hard way that these are just empty campaign promises. Consider this situation described by a nurse who filed an unfair labor practice charge against the MNA with the National Labor Relations Board in February 2013.
The nurse states in her unfair labor practice charge [insert link to charge] that the MNA failed to represent six nurses in a grievance they filed about the loss of seniority dates when there was a reduction in force. The nurse further stated that the "MNA has divided the group by restoring seniority dates to some of the RNs and not others even though we are in the same circumstances."
Do you want to be represented by an organization that will take your money but not represent you when you believe you have been mistreated? Do you want to be represented by an organization that divides its members by treating nurses in the same circumstances differently? Is this the type of organization you want to represent you?
March 4: MNA contract language can sometimes hurt, rather than help, nurses.
Here’s one example: At one hospital, the MNA negotiated an overtime distribution system that resulted in the same small group of senior nurses getting all of the overtime opportunities while the rest of the nurses seldom got a chance to work overtime. Every time there was an opportunity to work overtime, the contract required the hospital to offer it to the most senior nurse rather than going all the way through the seniority list before the most senior nurse received another opportunity to work overtime. A very frustrated MNA-represented nurse filed an unfair labor practice charge against the MNA after the MNA failed to address her repeated requests that the MNA negotiate a more fair system.
SSH values its senior nurses, but it is best for an organization and the morale of all nurses if all nurses have an equal opportunity to voluntarily work overtime. Do you want to be represented by an organization that will limit access to overtime and other benefits to a small group of senior nurses? Do you want to pay dues to an organization that repeatedly ignores its members when they ask it to fix an unfair situation?
Is this the type of organization you want to represent you?
February 22: The Decision to Strike
The decision whether or not to strike is an important personal decision – much like the decision on whether to unionize. That is why the conduct described by nurses who worked during the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s 103-day strike at Brockton Hospital in 2001strike and filed unfair labor practice charges against the MNA is so appalling. Here are some examples.
A nurse who chose to keep working during the strike was called a “whore scab” and a “bitch” by people on the picket line. Somebody put a sign on her lawn written on MNA poster board that read “A scab lives here. Never to be forgotten.” (Case 1-CB-9803)
Another nurse who chose to continue working during the strike and whose husband also worked at Brockton Hospital reported that someone yelled to her husband “Your wife better find another job.” She also reported that the MNA’s Director of Communications sent her a video email in which he called her a “whore” and many other things. (Case 1-CB-9813
When the nurses returned to work after the strike, the MNA gave them tags to wear with their ID badges that had a “Scab list” with the names of nurses who worked during the strike on it. Case1-CB-9885
Why would you want to be represented by an organization that engages in deplorable conduct – conduct directed at fellow nurses? Is this the type of organization you want to represent you?
February 4: Seniority
The Massachusetts Nurses Association places a very high value on seniority. It is used in many of their contracts to select vacation schedules, determine who gets open positions, and give nurses the right to bump other nurses out of their jobs during a layoff. If the MNA values seniority so much, why have many nurses filed an unfair labor practice charge (ULP) at the National Labor Relations Board against the MNA saying the MNA has harmed them by making mistakes on their seniority? Here is an example.
A nurse at UMass Memorial Medical Center (Hahnemann campus) filed a ULP against the MNA. The nurse was bumped from her full-time position by nurses who started their employment on the same day as she. The nurse told the NLRB she was bumped only because the seniority list contained an incorrect seniority date for her. Apparently the MNA ignored the nurse’s requests for assistance, so she had to file a charge against the MNA with the NLRB. Case 01-CB-096585.
Why would you want to be represented by an organization that tells you it will help get you benefits and protections based on seniority, but has failed to honor that promise to other nurses? Is this the type of organization you want to represent you?
January 29: Quincy Medical Center Staffing Leaflets
Approximately 18 months after Quincy Medical Center filed for bankruptcy, the Massachusetts Nurses Association had the hospital’s nurses handing out leaflets at MBTA stations saying the hospital was staffed at a bare bones level that may compromise their ability to provide safe patient care. How does telling the community that they may be in jeopardy if they seek care at their hospital help these nurses? Do you want to be part of an organization that attacks a community hospital as it is trying to get back on its feet after filing for bankruptcy?