PITTSFIELD — While "cordial," the first bargaining session in two months ended without a breakthrough for Berkshire Medical Center and its registered nurses.
The two sides now plan to resume work on a contract in late May, after nurses hold at least one rally.
Michael Leary, the hospital's spokesman, said talks Wednesday ended with an agreement to return to negotiations May 18, and again May 25, if needed.
Both parties offered goodwill gestures. Employees represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association agreed not to file a 10-day strike notice before the next meeting. The hospital said it would keep its current contract offer on the table.
"The tone during the day was cordial," Leary said.
In late February, the MNA withdrew a 10-day strike notice, days before a planned second job action. Nurses struck Oct. 3 and were out for five days in all, after the hospital barred them from returning while replacement nurses covered shifts.
Joe Markman, a union spokesman, said those bargaining on behalf of about 800 registered nurses at BMC will continue pushing two contract issues. One is staffing levels. The other is a hospital request that RNs pay more for individual health plans.
"The committee plans to continue negotiating for a fair contract that includes the key issues their members have brought forward, fought for and voted on," Markman said.
Before talks resume, members of the union plan to hold events in connection with National Nurses Week, which begins May 6, and with the contract impasse.
"It's important for them to celebrate with each other," Markman said of nurses.
The annual week of recognition, promoted by the American Nurses Association, closes on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the British social reformer considered to be a founder of modern nursing.
The hospital's registered nurses are more than halfway through what would have been a new three-year contract, had they reached an agreement with the hospital when the old pact expired in September 2016. To date, the two sides have met at least 40 times, now aided by a federal mediator.
Another group of nurses settled with the hospital after two bargaining sessions, less than two months after their old contract lapsed.
In February, licensed practical nurses represented by Service Employees International Union 1199 accepted a three-year contract that runs through Dec. 31, 2020.
Larry Parnass can be reached at email@example.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.