Nurses march outside Berkshire Medical Center as strike begins


PITTSFIELD — Nurses took to the sidewalk outside Berkshire Medical Center early Tuesday to begin a one-day strike. The crowd quickly grew to 120 or more soon after 7 a.m.

"What do we want? Safe staffing! When do we want it? Now!" chanted the nurses. The mood of the crowd was optimistic, with many wearing winter jackets to keep warm and some holding cups of hot coffee.

Nurses came and joined the line as their shifts ended and they planned to picket until midnight Tuesday, with rallies and speakers scheduled throughout the day.

Some nurses intended to come to work Wednesday as they would normally for their shifts, even as the hospital has said it will lock them out, said David Schildmeier, acting as the spokesman for the union.

As the crowd of nurses grew, they began marching on the sidewalk, the majority of them holding signs. Some signs said "If Berkshire Medical Center nurses are out here, something is wrong in there," and a woman took up a megaphone and began to lead the nurses in this chant.

Other signs said: "Standing up for patient safety because we care," and "Patient Safety over Profit$."

By 7:30 the nurses had begun marching along the sidewalks around the hospital.

Several police officers and many private security personnel were on scene at parking lots and near hospital entrances.

Members of the security staff were standing near the sidewalk but did not appear to be interfering with the striking nurses in any way.

There seemed no lack of support from traffic, with a chorus of honking horns from passing cars.


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