Hospital Nurses Report Community Backing in Contract Dispute

United Teachers of Lowell President Paul Georges and Rev. Ralph Galen of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Wakefield were among those who delivered a letter to Holy Family Hospital President Joseph Roach this morning. (WHAV News photograph.)

A delegation of community leaders is delivering a letter this morning to leaders of Steward Holy Family Hospital, Haverhill, appealing for “fair treatment of the nurses in protracted negotiations for a new union contract.”

Four of the 10 delegation members, including Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley, as well as Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council President and United Teachers of Lowell President Paul Georges, are scheduled to gather outside the hospital today to hand deliver a letter to hospital president Joseph Roach. The letter expresses “concerns for the nurses who provide dedicated care at our hospital,” according to a statement from Massachusetts Nurses Association. The union represents  145 registered nurses at the Haverhill campus, who “have been attempting for several months to negotiate a new union contract, yet the hospital has failed to engage in a good faith effort to negotiate with the nurses.”

As a result, the union said, “the nurses were forced to file two unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the facility for bargaining in bad faith.”

Holy Family Hospital Spokesperson Jean MacDougall-Tattan told WHAV a response letter by Roach will be issued.

“Holy Family Hospital is proud of the quality care provided by hospital doctors, nurses and staff to our patients every day, and we take pride in the collaborative work we have done with multiple unions to continue improving care and jobs within the facility,” MacDougall-Tattan said. “At the most recent negotiating session on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Holy Family Hospital continued to offer across the board raises and the preservation of existing step increases for MNA members. Existing step increases have resulted in wage growth for nurses at Holy Family Hospital-Haverhill of up to 15 percent since 2012. In addition to the currently proposed across the board increases, the step increases will continue to provide considerable wage growth for nurses in coming years. We will review this letter carefully and look forward to continuing negotiations with the nurses as scheduled on Tuesday, August 23.”

Not among the delegation on Thursday, but signing the letter are: Rabbi Ira Korinow, Temple Emanu-EL, Haverhill; Rev. Dr. Christopher T. Zeigler, Haverhill pastor; Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien, Haverhill city councilor; Jurg K. Siegenthaler, Bread and Roses Heritage Committee; Craig Fields, business agent, IBEW 2321; and Francis McLaughlin, president, Lawrence Teachers Union Local 1019.