Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association healthcare workers voted to form a new union – with 73% of the vote in favor.
VNA union organizers filed a notice with the National Labor Relations Board in October, seeking an election to join the Massachusetts Nurses Association.
After three weeks of postal voting, the NLRB counted the votes on Wednesday, according to a press release from the MP. The new union will represent around 60 nurses and physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.
Organizers told The Eagle they wanted to have a say in how VNA works, to improve their work and the medical care of their patients.
VNA employees drive across the county to treat patients with serious health issues, organizers said, and the coronavirus pandemic has made that job even more difficult.
“Now that we have formed our union at BVNA, we look forward to working collaboratively with leaders to resolve some of the long-standing issues facing home health care, provide the best home care experience for our patients, and a positive work environment for all of our colleagues, ”said Sarah Roberts, RN and member of the organizing committee, in the statement.
Union organizers previously told The Eagle that they sometimes lack the time and resources to properly care for patients. They said they often spend unpaid time completing their jobs and their managers don’t always understand their actual workload.
“When nurses and healthcare professionals come together, patients are the biggest beneficiaries,” Tamaryn Clowdus, physiotherapist and organizing committee member, said in the statement. “At BVNA, we now have a legally protected seat at the table with management to improve our practice and address issues impacting the patients in our care. “
The Massachusetts Nurses Association already represents approximately 900 registered nurses at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. The hospital and VNA are owned by Berkshire Health Systems.