NARH nurses authorize strike

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NORTH ADAMS -- The nurses union at North Adams Regional Hospital has voted in favor of going on strike.

The strike would go into effect only if its Massachusetts Nurses Association negotiating team deems it necessary.

Negotiations have been ongoing for six months. Bargaining sessions are still scheduled through the end of August, according to hospital management.

"We entered these negotiations with the understanding that the hospital is in a difficult financial position," said Ruth O'Hearn, a registered nurse and unit co-chairwoman, in a statement issued to the media today. "In that spirit, we didn't ask for a wage increase and since then have dropped any proposal that would cost the hospital money. They have responded to this olive branch with a hammer."

In response, a statement released by North Adams Regional Hospital spokesman Paul Hopkins said the Board of Trustees and management are "fully committed to continuing an open conversation about a new contract, and trust that the MNA also will continue to strive for a productive dialogue around these important issues."

The nurses union is upset at what it calls a large number of contract takeaways put forth by the hospital

According to the MNA, 99 percent of the 106 nurses in the union voted to authorize a strike.

"We sincerely hope the union will not choose to strike while there is still so much potential to reach agreement through the collective bargaining process," the hospital's statement said.

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