Wednesday, March 26, 2014

TEXT: A set of questions from former Williamstown selectman Ken Swiatek about NBHS planned closing

From: Ken Swiatek <>
Date: March 26, 2014, 6:15:30 AM EDT

Subject: Questions on the North Adams Regonal Hospital Closing

NARH Closing – Answers Needed – Thank You!


Here are some questions and comments I have regarding the North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH) scheduled for March 28, 2014 that was announced on March 25, 2014.


1.  Who, if anybody “owns” the hospital?


2.  Do members of the NARH Board of Directors receive any form of compensation?


3.  How can the Board of Trustees close the hospital without even proposing any succession plan like a 24/7 hour medical emergency stop business?  This seems an awful lot like a cut and run decision, even if it was carefully planned for months.


4.  Does Berkshire Medical Center have a helicopter landing pad like Southern Vermont Hospital?


5.  How soon will the Williamstown, North Adams, Adams ambulance services be getting a medical helicopter? Where will it be housed?


6.  Why would any parents from outside the area want to send their children to Williams College or MCLA given that there is no nearby hospital? (Per the Williams Record, Williams sends several students weekly to NARH for alcohol/drug overdoses.)


7.  This closing is way, way more devastating than the Sprague Electric closing, in the magnitude of 4-6X worse.


8.  I hope this vote of the board of Trustees was not a ploy to play hardball and to bring the nurses union and the nurses into submission for pay and benefit cuts.


9.  Please list all the salaries of hospital administrative staff.


10.  Is Williamstown Medical Associates in any danger of closing in the next 5 years? If not, what have they been doing right that the hospital cannot do?


11.  Is the Southern Vermont (Bennington) Hospital planning on closing soon? If not, what have they been doing correctly?


12. Here is a listing of the NARH Board of Trustees: give ‘em a call!

Julia Bolton, Jane Allen, Ellen Bernstein, Arthur Turton, Chi Cheung, Jonathan Cluett, Stephen Fix, Bruce Grinnell, Richard Jette, Byron Sherman, Martha Storey, Susan Yates, William Frado Jr., Tim Jones.


13.  There is also a long list of the Board of Corporators:


14.  Would an infusion/transfusion of major new blood on the Board of Directors have helped the hospital to be able to look outside the box? How about some sort of receivership?


15.  This may be a wake up call for the Northern Berkshire area, but if it fails, who will be left to flip the light switch?


16.  If anyone has answers to ANY of these questions, please send them along.  Once we get a few answers, there will be many more Questions.


17.  Property values and school enrollment numbers will stat plummeting in 3, 2, 1 ...


18.  First they shut down our newspapers, now our hospital, what is next?


19.  What will happen to NARH pensions, current and future?


20.  See 1-18 above.


Ken Swiatek

Williamstown, MA


Ken Swiatek
Radio: 91.1FM Tu 3 - 6 PM

Federal law about layoff notice


U.S. Department of Labor

Employment and Training Administration
Fact Sheet

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
A Guide to Advance Notice of Closings and Layoffs

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on August 4, 1988 and became effective on February 4, 1989.
General Provisions
WARN offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government.
Employer Coverage
In general, employers are covered by WARN if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week. Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered.
Employee Coverage
Employees entitled to notice under WARN include hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees. Business partners are not entitled to notice.

What Triggers Notice
Plant Closing: A covered employer must give notice if an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period. This does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).
Mass Layoff: A covered employer must give notice if there is to be a mass layoff which does not result from a plant closing, but which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees, or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer's active workforce. Again, this does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).
An employer also must give notice if the number of employment losses which occur during a 30-day period fails to meet the threshold requirements of a plant closing or mass layoff, but the number of employment losses for 2 or more groups of workers, each of which is less than the minimum number needed to trigger notice, reaches the threshold level, during any 90-day period, of either a plant closing or mass layoff. Job losses within any 90-day period will count together toward WARN threshold levels, unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses during the 90-day period are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes.
Sale of Businesses
In a situation involving the sale of part or all of a business, the following requirements apply. (1) In each situation, there is always an employer responsible for giving notice. (2) If the sale by a covered employer results in a covered plant closing or mass layoff, the required parties (discussed later) must receive at least 60 days notice. (3) The seller is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs up to and including the date/time of the sale. (4) The buyer is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs after the date/time of the sale. (5) No notice is required if the sale does not result in a covered plant closing or mass layoff. (6) Employees of the seller (other than employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week) on the date/time of the sale become, for purposes of WARN, employees of the buyer immediately following the sale. This provision preserves the notice rights of the employees of a business that has been sold.

Employment Loss
The term "employment loss" means:
(1) An employment termination, other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement;
(2) a layoff exceeding 6 months; or
(3) a reduction in an employee's hours of work of more than 50% in each month of any 6-month period.
Exceptions: An employee who refuses a transfer to a different employment site within reasonable commuting distance does not experience an employment loss. An employee who accepts a transfer outside this distance within 30 days after it is offered or within 30 days after the plant closing or mass layoff, whichever is later, does not experience an employment loss. In both cases, the transfer offer must be made before the closing or layoff, there must be no more than a 6 month break in employment, and the new job must not be deemed a constructive discharge. These transfer exceptions from the "employment loss" definition apply only if the closing or layoff results from the relocation or consolidation of part or all of the employer's business.
An employer does not need to give notice if a plant closing is the closing of a temporary facility, or if the closing or mass layoff is the result of the completion of a particular project or undertaking. This exemption applies only if the workers were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the duration of the facility, project or undertaking. An employer cannot label an ongoing project "temporary" in order to evade its obligations under WARN.
An employer does not need to provide notice to strikers or to workers who are part of the bargaining unit(s) which are involved in the labor negotiations that led to a lockout when the strike or lockout is equivalent to a plant closing or mass layoff. Non-striking employees who experience an employment loss as a direct or indirect result of a strike and workers who are not part of the bargaining unit(s) which are involved in the labor negotiations that led to a lockout are still entitled to notice.
An employer does not need to give notice when permanently replacing a person who is an "economic striker" as defined under the National Labor Relations Act.

Who Must Receive Notice
The employer must give written notice to the chief elected officer of the exclusive representative(s) or bargaining agency(s) of affected employees and to unrepresented individual workers who may reasonably be expected to experience an employment loss. This includes employees who may lose their employment due to "bumping," or displacement by other workers, to the extent that the employer can identify those employees when notice is given. If an employer cannot identify employees who may lose their jobs through bumping procedures, the employer must provide notice to the incumbents in the jobs which are being eliminated. Employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week are due notice, even though they are not counted when determining the trigger levels.
The employer must also provide notice to the State dislocated worker unit and to the chief elected official of the unit of local government in which the employment site is located.
Notification Period
With three exceptions, notice must be timed to reach the required parties at least 60 days before a closing or layoff. When the individual employment separations for a closing or layoff occur on more than one day, the notices are due to the representative(s), State dislocated worker unit and local government at least 60 days before each separation. If the workers are not represented, each worker's notice is due at least 60 days before that worker's separation.
The exceptions to 60-day notice are:
(1) Faltering company. This exception, to be narrowly construed, covers situations where a company has sought new capital or business in order to stay open and where giving notice would ruin the opportunity to get the new capital or business, and applies only to plant closings;
(2) unforeseeable business circumstances. This exception applies to closings and layoffs that are caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would otherwise have been required; and
(3) Natural disaster. This applies where a closing or layoff is the direct result of a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, drought or storm.
If an employer provides less than 60 days advance notice of a closing or layoff and relies on one of these three exceptions, the employer bears the burden of proof that the conditions for the exception have been met. The employer also must give as much notice as is practicable. When the notices are given, they must include a brief statement of the reason for reducing the notice period in addition to the items required in notices.
Form and Content of Notice
No particular form of notice is required. However, all notices must be in writing. Any reasonable method of delivery designed to ensure receipt 60 days before a closing or layoff is acceptable.
Notice must be specific. Notice may be given conditionally upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event only when the event is definite and its occurrence or nonoccurrence will result in a covered employment action less than 60 days after the event.
The content of the notices to the required parties is listed in section 639.7 of theWARN final regulations. Additional notice is required when the date(s) or 14-day period(s) for a planned plant closing or mass layoff are extended beyond the date(s) or 14-day period(s) announced in the original notice.
No particular form of record is required. The information employers will use to determine whether, to whom, and when they must give notice is information that employers usually keep in ordinary business practices and in complying with other laws and regulations.
An employer who violates the WARN provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. The employer's liability may be reduced by such items as wages paid by the employer to the employee during the period of the violation and voluntary and unconditional payments made by the employer to the employee.
An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. This penalty may be avoided if the employer satisfies the liability to each aggrieved employee within 3 weeks after the closing or layoff is ordered by the employer.
Enforcement of WARN requirements is through the United States district courts. Workers, representatives of employees and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits. In any suit, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.
Specific requirements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act may be found in the Act itself, Public Law 100-379 (29 U.S.C. 210l, et seq.) The Department of Labor published final regulations on April 20, 1989 in the FederalRegister (Vol. 54, No. 75). The regulations appear at 20 CFR Part 639.
General questions on the regulations may be addressed to:
U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
Office of Work-Based Learning
Room N-5426
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
(202) 219-5577
The Department of Labor, since it has no administrative or enforcement responsibility under WARN, cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.

This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department of Labor programs. It is intended as a general description only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.

Bill Densmore
Williamstown, Mass.
Off: 413-458-8001 / m: 617-448-6600

STATEMENTS: Unions call for 9:30 a.m. Friday rally at NARH

From: WMass Jobs with Justice <>
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 9:31 PM
Subject: [Workers' Rights] URGENT ACTION! Northern Berkshire Healthcare closing hospital 

A community demonstration is being planned for Friday, 9:30am. See below.


North Adams Regional Hospital, the Northern Berkshire Visiting Nurses Association & Hospice of Northern Berkshire, and three medical practices -- all under the umbrella of Northern Berkshire Healthcare -- will close on Friday, leaving 530 full- and part-time employees without jobs and thousands of patients with no immediate health care answers. (Berkshire Eagle; click for more)


State and local officials are scrambling to save North Adams Regional Hospital from closure Friday, even if it is only a temporary reprieve until it can be merged with a more stable partner. (MassLive; click for more)


Union workers there are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (100 members) and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (nearly 200).  Their statements are below.  They plan to fight the closure, as does the April 4th Coalition.  All are Western Mass. Jobs with Justice Organizational Members and need our solidarity.


A community demonstration is being planned for Friday, 9:30am.

North Adams Regional Hospital is at 71 Hospital Ave. Contact Mike Wilber at 413-663-9192 or just show up on Friday and demand answers.  The April 4th Coalition asks:

·      Please publicize this event through whatever networks you have.

·      Call Mayor Alcombright ((413) 662-3000), the City Councilors you know, and our State Legislators: Ben Downing ((413) 442-4008) and Gailanne Cariddi ((413) 652-7254).

·      Become involved and let your voices be heard. Do not quietly accept this loss. Take the time to be at the demonstration.


Below is a statement by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United:

North Adams Regional Hospital has announced this afternoon that they are closing the hospital as of Friday, providing the patients, community and workforce served by this hospital with just three days' notice.

NARH is a community hospital that provides desperately needed emergency and inpatient care to an isolated, rural community in the northwest corner of the state. It is outrageous to close this hospital so abruptly with no plan in place for the patients impacted by this callous decision.

We are not convinced that the board of trustees and management has fulfilled the legal requirements to allow the closure of this facility, and in any case, to do so in this manner is unacceptable.

While the board of trustees may have chosen to abandon this community, the nurses of NARH have not. We are meeting with all relevant public officials, working with others in the community and exploring every legal avenue open to us to save this hospital, or to at least ensure a safe transition for our patients.

The closing highlights a growing crisis in Massachusetts where the consolidation of hospitals into large corporate networks (such as Baystate Health and Partners), has left smaller community hospitals, particularly those that serve poorer communities, more vulnerable, with no source of support to ensure all communities have access to the care and services they need.

In addition to fighting to save this and other hospitals and services currently in jeopardy, the MNA/NNU is promoting a ballot initiative, the Hospital Profitable Profit Transparency and Fairness Act, which would establish a process for funding needed services and facilities for all communities in the Commonwealth. Coincidentally, a nurse from NARH testified about this issue at a State House hearing held on Monday.


 Below is a statement from 1199SEIU:

This closure is unacceptable. Unfortunately, this crisis in North Adams is indicative of significant problems and disparities within the broader Massachusetts health care financing system.

Community hospitals in Massachusetts are in crisis largely as a result of low Medicaid rates and the disproportionately higher commercial payments made to higher-cost hospitals.

Healthcare workers are calling on state officials to immediately intervene and protect the vital, cost-effective services provided by North Adams Regional Hospital. This is a potentially devastating development for patients and workers alike.

This is a matter of life and death for many in the impacted communities who could lose access to emergency hospital services. A solution must be found.

Monday, March 24, 2014


"Kathleen E. Sansone"
Date: March 24, 2014 at 3:56:14 PM EDT
Subject: Greylock News Contribution

Greylock News-

I have a listing I would love to be added to Greylock News.

This 90-minute puppet theater adaptation tells the oral histories of five
very different homeless and hungry people, through five 15- to 20-minute
segments, woven together much as a chef weaves a succession of flavors
into a cohesive multi-course meal. Overall, the project incorporates a
range of puppetry styles in order to give each of the five stories its own
aesthetic treatment. Presented on a specially built 24-foot dinner table,
the audience views the action from one side, as if they are banquet
guests. Incorporated into the evening are Delft china, Matchbox cars,
televisions, rod puppets, as well as puppets inspired by Japanese Bunraku,
and much more.

We are having three public showings at The North Adams Puppet Lab, 107
Main Street North Adams MA, 01247:

Saturday March 29th at 2pm and again at 7pm
Sunday March 30th at 3pm
Limited seating, For tickets call: (413) 662-5204
For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to

Kathleen Sansone


Friday, March 14, 2014

A message from Images Cinema's board chair (fwd)

Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:06:06 -0400
From: Images Cinema <>

Dear Images Cinema Community,

I'm writing to share with you the news that Sandra Thomas has decided that it is time to leave her post as
Executive Director of Images. Her twelve years leading our cinema have been notable for a series of
significant achievements including a complete remodel of the theater, the conversion to Digital Cinema
Exhibition, and the installation of our marquee. We wish we could keep Sandra forever, but being as dynamic
as she is, she has more she wants to explore and accomplish and has decided that now is the time to start.
We are gratified, even relieved that Sandra will stay in the area and will be available to help us as
Images works on new initiatives and the cinema's 100th anniversary coming up in 2016.

We all love Images and understand how important it is to our community. Sandra's shoes will be difficult to
fill, but we must do our best. We've assembled a dream-team committee to direct our search, and we ask for
your help to spread the word that Images is seeking a new executive director. Click here for the job

I thank Sandra for her service to Images and our community, and I thank you for your help in moving Images
to the next stage of its long history.

John Strachan
John Strachan
Board of Directors

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Notes of Gloria Steinem's talk tonight at MCLA in

Notes of Gloria Steinem's talk tonight at MCLA in North Adams tonight.

-- Talks about how important it is to get together in face to face encounters like this

talks about the tragedy of student debt
-- Steps of movements . . . . Consciousness , organizing transforming
-- redefine what work is. Household work is a third of what goes on in the nation and it is not counted as having economic value
-- question hierarchy, individual differences are bigger than group differences / time to dispense with old categories and see new connections
-- Domestic violence didn't exist when she was growing up / no name for it. Better now to call it original violence / it is replicated outside the home.
-- not about biology / we just not have been born or raised to have our masculinity proved / but it is not about a group or category, if is about individuals. Understanding that is when the transformation happens.
-- Countries which tolerate violence against women normalize dominance and are more violent in many other ways.
-- Native American women were part of all decision making processes.
-- Europeans Invented racism to make it OK to conquer other people.
-- Declare this last recent period as one which failed -- patriarchal, monotheistic, etc.
-- See uniqueness and community
-- It's going to take men raising children as much as women -- patience, compassion, sympathy etc. Men are deprived too.
-- Think of it as a full circle of uniqueness. Get back to a pre-national world / we must be multinational. Boundaries are artificial / nature doesn't make straight lines
-- Most dangerous time to escape a violent household is right before and right after because it is about control.
-- Terrific thing that we will soon not be a majority white or European country.
-- We as a nation are escaping old structures so it is a time of maximum danger also. We are going to keep going.
-- If one butterfly's wing can change the weather think what we can do here. It is a time of transformation.

Questions and answers:

-- She's on the road all the time but trying to get a book done. "I'm hoping to restore interest in this thing called organizing."
-- Average age of women in media much younger than men.
-- Women's movement has never been a white women's movement. It's not possible to be a feminist without being anti racist. You can't uproot one without uprooting the other.
-- Rather than predict the future focus on making the present better.
-- Questioner observes audience "looks like an AARP meeting; is worried about bad law at the state level.
-- Berkshire Festival of a Women Writers / what happens when a woman finds her voice? Food, health, wellbeing.
-- Distinction between religion and spirituality. It gives us a feeling of what people in many religions are trying to do.
-- what are the institutions of our life really saying? She compares the church altar to the womb
-- Discussion about why the radical right appeals to some women.
-- recommends Women's Media Center website . Only 3 percent of people in news assigning positions are women. But the media are not reality but they can fool us into thinking something is the norm and that changes the reality. The media is our campfire and so if controls the story.
-- We can pressure the media by not buying the product -- and by making our own campfires.
-- if we are isolated we may feel some / meet with a group of kindred spirits at least once a week. We need a worldwide feminist AA -- small, leaderless, free. Make sure that is part of your lives -- people who you can speak honestly with -- that is do much more important than any label can be.

Bill Densmore
Williamstown, Mass.
Off: 413-458-8001 / m: 617-448-6600