By Alex Ross 

Signs supporting nurses up amid negotiations


December 7, 2017

Havre Daily News/Alex Ross

A sign showing support for nurses is displayed in a window in Havre.

"I Support Nurses" signs have appeared in front yards and outside businesses throughout Havre in the past few weeks.

Audrey Turner, president of Havre's Montana Nurses Association's No. 11 Chapter, said the signs are meant to show appreciation for nurses, as the association and Northern Montana Hospital administration attempt to negotiate a new contract.

The nurses' most recent contract expired last week, Turner said.

Association representatives and hospital administrators met in September to discuss a new contract and will meet again next week, she said.

Turner said negotiators hope a new contact will include a fairer wage scale. 'Nurses' wages are lower in Havre than the rest of the state, she said, which makes it hard for the hospital to attract and retain quality nurses.

"A lot of us grew up in this community and we want to continue to be able to work here, as well as have good, skilled nurses be able to become established in this community," Turner said.

Northern Montana Healthcare CEO Dave Henry said he does not know if it is true that nurses in the Havre area get paid less, but thinks nurses and all personnel in the medical field should have higher wages.

"We support nurses, too," Henry said. "We always have and always will."

He said, though, the enactment of Senate Bill 261 by the Montana Legislature could make raising wages tougher. The bill, which required cuts if state revenue projections dropped, reduces the Medicare reimbursement rate by 3 percent, and therefore the hospital will be taking in less money, he said.

Vicky Byrd, state executive director of the state association. said progress has been made and they are hopeful agreement on a new contract can be reached.

Support within Havre for nurses has been amazing, Turner said. She added that 200 signs have been given out to people. Signs have been on display outside of local businesses such as Holden's Hot Wheels, Havre Bicycle, Tire-Rama, Western Drug Pharmacy, Vic's Place and Fifth Avenue Laundromat.

Turner said that as of Monday she has about 20 signs left, and the nurses will print placards that people can place in their windows.

Signs as well as bumper stickers and bracelets, Turner said, can be picked up at Holden's Hot Wheels, Norman's Ranch & Sportswear and Lodestar Land and Home.


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