City Council Takes Sides in Holy Family Hospital Contract Dispute

Haverhill City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien.

Most Haverhill city councilors Tuesday gave their formal support for union nurses at Holy Family Hospital, Haverhill, who seek a new labor contract with hospital parent Steward Health Care.

A resolution, presented by Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, was passed by a vote of 8 to 0.

“Nurses deserve the opportunity to serve patients in a safe and secure environment. Nurses, in a properly staffed hospital, are more satisfied with their work environment. Increased satisfaction can lead to better care for patients and reduce turnover,” Daly O’Brien read from the resolution.

Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua abstained “to avoid any conflict of interest” in the hospital’s association with the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, for which he serves as president and CEO.  The motion to approve the resolution was made by Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan and seconded by Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

Daly O’Brien, a former nurse at the hospital, dating back to the former city-owned Hale Hospital, placed the discussion item on Tuesday’s agenda “requesting to allow Merrimack Valley Nurses  Association and Massachusetts Nurses Association to give an update on their concerns regarding quality care” at the local hospital.”

“And as I have been quoted in the past, ‘We are the engineers of health care.’ We are educated as such. We have responsibility and accountability that includes human life at every age and we are not respected for that position we have in our society,” Daly O’Brien added.

Daly O’Brien is also among area community leaders who signed a letter, presented last Thursday to hospital President Joseph Roach, appealing for “fair treatment of the nurses in protracted negotiations for a new union contract.”

Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) local co-chairs Julia O’Brien, 66 Webster St., and Jane Emery, 3 Pine Ridge Road, also spoke to update the status of ongoing contract negotiations. A session earlier Tuesday, O’Brien said, consisted of “a couple of questions” from Steward representatives to a counter-proposal from the nurses. The next session is scheduled Sept. 15. O’Brien told councilors the union began to receive this week, in response to unfair labor practice complaints, information requested by the union six months ago for the bargaining process.

“We have faced an uphill battle from the start because the culture of the hospital is not one that values nurses. My colleagues and I experience daily disrespect on the job and have been told that we are replaceable,” O’Brien said.

Emery said the hospital administration has also been “unwilling” to offer “any type of a real retirement plan.”

“They did offer a little carrot of a pension plan that would take effect on, literally, the last 24 hours, for the contract that we are now working on. That was their idea of what we deserved,” Emery said. “We are the only hospital represented by the (MNA) that does not receive either a match or a pension. The only nurses at our hospital that have a real retirement plan are the few nurses who remain (from) when the city actually owned the hospital.”

The nurses continue to work under the previous contract since its extended May 31 expiration, according to Massachusetts Nurses Association Associate Public Communications Director Joseph Markman.

Councilor William J. Macek participated in the meeting by remote teleconference.

6 thoughts on “City Council Takes Sides in Holy Family Hospital Contract Dispute

  1. The city council under anyone’s direction has no business at all getting involved in a private negotiation like this. If I work at a company in Haverhill – and I want a raise, and my boss is hesitant to give it to me, can I get on the city council agenda and ask them for a letter of recommendation for my raise? Didn’t think so.

    This is complete and utter nonsense.

  2. Why is this city business? Why are city councilors spending one second of public meeting time discussing contract negotiations of a private corporation??

    Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien: Once again you’d displayed your absolute ignorance and stupidity for the nuances of running a business. Your friends at the Haverhill Holy Family Hospital are whining and complaining while at the same time are getting paid significantly more than nurses doing the exact same job at the Methuen Holy Family Hospital. Yet, like all union hacks, what they get is never enough.

    Mary Ellen, since you are now an award winning Democrat representing the interests of women in Haverhill, wouldn’t your time be better spent tracking down illegal criminal trespassers from other countries before they rape more women in city public parks?

    • Amazing isn’t it ? Always trying to interject where she does not belong.

      Maybe try doing some real business and ask the Mayor what in the world is he doing charging a city project permitting fees which goes around prop 2 1/2 AND the residents will pay interest on for 20 years ? No, why do that. That takes thinking and actual work and she may get some nasty looks from her buddy the Mayor. Why not ask WHY it is going to cost OVER $500K to build ONE small building at the Hunking school project. OVER $500K for ONE SMALL BUILDING TO ” store equipment “. THAT is what you and the council should be worried about.

    • All the nurses want is the same pay as other local hospitals and a retirement plan. Working vital sign monitors and a couple more nurse’s aides wouldn’t hurt, either. Steward sees fit to waste money on a lot of unnecessary things better spent on necessary things.

      • “All the nurses want is the same pay as other local hospitals and a retirement plan.” –

        I wrote the reasons why on “You know you’re from Haverhill” FB page as to why this isn’t going to be possible. Steward is owned by a PE firm, Cerberus Capital Management, you simply do not matter, and they have a track record of destruction to prove it.