Posted: Feb 19, 2013 10:44 AM by KBZK Media Center
Updated: Feb 20, 2013 8:56 AM
BOZEMAN - Nurses at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, along with other union members, are picketing outside the hospital today, unhappy with the way contract negotiations are going.
Holding signs that read, "If nurses are outside, something's wrong inside!" and "Nurses make it better," the picketers took to the sidewalk along Highland Boulevard Tuesday morning to support the 240 nurses who are currently working under an expired contract at the hospital.
Members of the union told KBZK last week that they feel as though their voices are not being heard.
The union members have three sticking points. First, they are asking for benefits for part time nurses that, according to the nurses union, the hospital wants to take away. Second, they say there are inequities on the pay scale. The union says sometimes new hires with the same experience and education as current employees are paid more. The third issue the union wants addressed is bullying.
'There are workplace practices at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital that we feel are disrespectful to nurses and compromise patient care," nurse and union representative Barbara Johnson said during an interview last week.
The union wants language added to the contract to protect nurses from this kind of treatment.
The hospital issued a statement on Monday, outlining the history of the union negotiations and offering information about the picket.
In the statement, the hospital said that Bozeman Deaconess Health Services and the Montana Nurses Association union reached a tentative agreement in late November; but, in December, the nurses voted to reject it. BDH says in its statement that the nurses initially came to the table with 23 non-monetary issues and other economic issues, which were included in the tentative agreement. Another session was held in late January, but Bozeman Deaconess Health Services "was not in a position to propose a solution that would address the economic concerns of the nurses due to the complexity of the issues under consideration," the hospital's statement says.
The hospital adds in its statement that it will be business as usual at the hospital during the picket.
We will continue to follow this story and provide updates throughout the day.