MNA Members Testify in Support of Steward Purchase at Public Hearing

Call Upon AG to Ensure Steward Honor Our Contract & Previous Agreements Made With MNA Nurses.
Massachusetts Nurses Association, August 10, 2011

Contrary to news reports about the public hearing held by the Attorney General and DPH  last night concerning the pending sale of Quincy Medical Center to Steward Health Care, a number of our local bargaining unit members testified last night in strong support of the proposed sale of Quincy Medical Center to Steward Health Care Systems. Starting with QMC chair, Paula Ryan, and followed by four other nurses, the MNA voiced our enthusiastic support for Steward’s mission of supporting cutting edge care through a system of viable community hospitals, as well as for Steward’s commitment to invest in desperately needed improvements to the infrastructure and technology at our hospital. We also used the opportunity to send the message that our primary concerns are that QMC remain a full service acute care hospital for all who need it in our community; while also calling upon the attorney general to ensure that Steward works with us to extend our current contract, as has been done for other unions, and to recognize and protect all of our current rights and benefits.
Nurses from Quincy Medical Center were also joined by members of the MNA who work at a number of Caritas Steward hospitals who also endorsed the sale of Quincy Medical Center to Steward. However, these nurses, who have been through the same process we are now going through, and who have experience in working with our potential new employer, raised concerns about Steward’s failure to uphold the agreement and contract they made with the Caritas nurses last October, an agreement they negotiated, signed off on and joined the MNA in celebrating in the media. That agreement established a landmark multi-employer defined benefit pension plan. Again, Steward spent months with us to negotiate this plan. They signed on the dotted line. The Attorney General’s approval of that sale included a clause that calls upon the employer to uphold and honor their agreements with their unions. They have blatantly violated their commitment to the attorney general and to the 2,000 nurses who ratified an agreement for a pension they were promised by Steward.
The nurses who spoke about this issue did so factually and professionally. Unfortunately, a Steward attorney used the forum to issue an angry and distorted attack on the MNA and the nurses who are only asking for Steward to follow the law. The issue is simple, if you say you are going to do something, and sign a contract saying you will do it, then you should live by your word. Steward has not. This is no small matter. If Steward can flaunt the law and renege on their promises at a time when they are being closely scrutinized by the public and governmental agencies, what happens three years from now when the light of public interest is no longer shining on them?
Even in light of this issue, the MNA still strongly supports this sale, and we are engaging in an effort to resolve our differences with Steward. We have no doubt that this sale will be approved as planned. With the pending sale a foregone conclusion, it is even more important for us to do whatever is necessary to ensure that there are safeguards in place to protect your rights and benefits, and that Steward is held accountable for honoring its agreements, not only with the MNA, but with all the communities it now serves.