HOLYOKE — The new owners of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital have told employee unions their contracts will not be honored after the sale, and have begun telling staff they will have to reapply for their jobs.
Providence and Mercy Medical Center, the outgoing owners under the umbrella of Trinity Health Of New England, notified the state Department of Labor they will lay off 151 employees effective April 20.
The two unions with workers among those 151 are Massachusetts Nurses Association, with 40 nurses, and United Auto Workers Local 2322, which has 60 members at Providence working as counselors, clinicians and certified nursing assistants.
Nurses Association spokesman Joe Markman and Karen Rosenberg, a servicing representative and organizer for the UAW, described the situation with the contracts Tuesday.
Trinity Health announced last week that it sold Providence Behavioral Health and its Holyoke building to Health Partners New England of Devens and GFI Partners, a Boston real estate company. The price, disclosed only in documents at the Hampden County Registry of Deeds, was $1 million.
Rosenberg said Trinity Health gave all the UAW members notices stating they would all be terminated effective April 19, the last day before the new owners take possession. Trinity also informed UAW members they will have to apply for jobs with the new owner and said the union contract would be “canceled” as of April 19, Rosenberg said.
“We have heard nothing from (Health Partners New England),” she wrote in an email. “We have read the news reports in which HPNE has promised there will be no interruption in patient care, and also says it expects to receive millions of dollars in incentive payments from the state to re-open the in-patient psychiatric units that Trinity shut down last July (causing the layoff of about 60 other UAW-represented employees), despite those units being deemed essential to the community.”
The new owners have asked the state for approval to reopen inpatient psychiatric care with 84 care beds. They also plan to continue offering opioid addiction treatment and to rename the facility MiraVista Behavioral Health.
The new owners said last week that they plan to have 200 staff at MiraVista. But Tuesday they had little in the way of details to share.
“The MiraVista leadership team will begin communicating with current Mercy employees this week to discuss these matters,” a spokesman wrote in an email responding to questions. “We will be addressing these topics with them before speaking about them publicly.”
Trinity’s local press office referred questions to the new owners.
Markman said the nurses are going to start a campaign among the public and political representatives to preserve union representation at Providence after it becomes MiraVista.
“Having transparent, fair guidelines around working conditions are hugely important…