Tobey Hospital nurses awarded settlement after 3-year dispute ends

Mar 24, 2018

A three-year contract dispute between Tobey Hospital nurses and Southcoast Health, the not-for-profit that oversees Tobey and three other area hospitals, ended this month with pay increases for Tobey’s 150 nurses.

According to the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which serves as Tobey Hospital’s nurses union, a new, two-year contract and settlement was ratified on March 8.

The vote ended a dispute that started between the nurses union and Southcoast Health after the organization said it couldn’t reach a new contract agreement with the nurses three years ago.

“With that declaration, management then unilaterally and illegally implemented numerous changes to the contract that resulted in significant wage and benefit losses for the nurses. Those changes included freezing wages, eliminating holidays, and cutting contributions to nurses’ 403b plans,” according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

Southcoast Health spokesman Peter Cohenno said the organization decided to settle out of respect for employees rather than pursue the issue in court.

“Going forward, this settlement brings the nurses at Tobey Hospital to parity with other nurses within our system on these issues. As such, this will support and improve our ability for retention and recruitment of nursing staff at Tobey,” said Cohenno. “Most importantly, we commend our nursing staff that throughout this long process have been the utmost professionals.”

The terms of the settlement include: back payment for two missed holidays in years 2015, 2016, and 2017; back payment for missed 403b contributions, up to $6,383 for an individual; back payment for missed step earnings, up to $8,810 for an individual.