Fifty registered nurses at Marcus Daly Hospital in Hamilton have reached a tentative contract agreement with hospital administration. The nurses, represented by Montana Nurses Association (MNA), voted unanimously to ratify the terms of their new collective bargaining agreement, which represents a win-win for the hospital, the nurses, and the patients they serve.
“It’s a new day at Marcus Daly Hospital. One in which the hospital and the nurses are embarking on a journey together with a goal of improved patient care and satisfaction,” said Amy Hauschild, MNA Labor Specialist. “Although discussions were tumultuous at times, we found ways to meet the needs of both parties and laid the foundation for future collaboration.”
Commissioner Ted Handel from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services mediated the last two negotiation sessions. “The mediator was instrumental in achieving a final agreement,” said Hauschild.
The nurses won third-party dispute resolution for cases involving terminations which utilizes a neutral mediator or arbitrator in settling differences that have not reached settlement through any other stage of resolution between labor and management. The nurses fought to have it included as a fundamental employee right and an essential element for attracting and retaining quality nurses able to perform work effectively without fear of reprisal. In the absence of this clause, which lies at the heart of a fair and honest labor/management relationship, the final decision-making power on all grievances had previously been held exclusively by the Corporate Executive Officer of the hospital. Hauschild pointed out, “It’s not a perfect contract but we are moving in the right direction.”
In addition to including third-party dispute resolution for termination cases, the new contract calls for nurses to have more input on changes to their workplace. Hauschild said it also includes a fair and objective process for the hiring of nurses from within the bargaining unit, a workplace wellness plan, and a more focused mission for the Labor-Management Committee which addresses care delivery systems, quality of care, patient safety and working conditions.
Barbara Crane R.N., president of the National Federation of Nurses (NFN), rallied in solidarity with the nurses on the picket line in Hamilton in August. The NFN is the national affiliate of the Montana Nurses Association. “I applaud Marcus Daly Hospital and these dedicated nurses for working together to find a common solution,” Crane said. “Having a fair collective bargaining agreement in place allows nurses to speak up and advocate for safer policies in the workplace without fear of discipline. This ultimately leads to better patient care and safety which is a central goal for both hospital administration and nurses alike.”
The Montana Nurses Association is a professional organization representing more than 2,000 registered nurses throughout the state of Montana.