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Nurses at Pittsfield hospital schedule one-day strike

By Danny McDonald Globe Staff 

Nurses at a Western Massachusetts hospital have scheduled a one-day strike later this month if executives don’t agree to a contract they consider to be fair.

The registered nurses at Pittsfield’s Berkshire Medical Center plan to hold a strike on Feb. 27, “unless hospital executives agree to a fair contract that protects and improves the quality of nurse staffing and patient care,” according to a statement from the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

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A message left with a hospital spokesman was not immediately returned Thursday night.

Nurses, according to the union’s statement, gave the hospital more than the 10 days’ notice that is required by law to strike. Notice of the strike was issued after bargaining ended between hospital management and the union on Thursday. Another bargaining session between the two sides is slated for Feb. 13.

Six bargaining sessions have taken place since nurses at the hospital went on strike for one day last October, according to the union. That walkout was the first at the hospital since 1981. The hospital management hired replacement workers for that strike and kept out union nurses for an additional four days, according to the union.

On Thursday, the union said hospital management “refused to make any agreements that would commit the hospital to maintaining current levels of RN staffing or make any improvements.”

“Nurses should never be forced to go on strike to protect patient care,” said Alex Neary, a registered nurse who serves on a union bargaining committee. “The hospital has told us they will not give up the right to make staffing worse if they want to. This is unacceptable to us.”

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Almost 800 nurses from the hospital have been negotiating a new contract since September 2016.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey contributed to this report Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.