HAVERHILL — Community leaders are coming forward to help get a new contract for nurses at Steward Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley in Haverhill.

A delegation of local religious and labor leaders will deliver a letter to hospital President Joseph Roach Thursday morning to “express concerns for the nurses who provide dedicated care at our hospital,” and to appeal for fair treatment of the nurses in extended negotiations for a new union contract, said a release from the delegation.

The group said the issue is bigger than a contract dispute — that it affects the quality of health care for the community.

Delivering the letter will be the Rev. Ralph Galen of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Wakefield; Paul Georges, president of the United Teachers of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council; Lisa Begley, president of the Haverhill Education Association; and Ed Adley, business agent with Teamsters Local 170, said David Schildmeier, director of public communications for the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

The nurses’ previous contract with the hospital expired on March 31, but was extended through May 31.

“As nurses who care deeply about this hospital and who every day strive to provide the best care possible to our communities, we greatly appreciate the validation and support provided by our community leaders,” said Jane Emery, a registered nurse in the hospital’s Med/Surg. Telemetry unit and co-chair of the nurses union's local bargaining unit.

“We sincerely hope this helps convince our management to do the right thing for its nurses and, most importantly, for our patients by being fair to those who care and settle this agreement for the good of all in this community,” she said.

In December, the Massachusetts Nurses Association began its efforts to work with Steward to begin negotiations for a new agreement, yet Steward refused to provide necessary information requested by the nurses association to begin fruitful talks, said Schildmeier.

As a result, the union has filed two charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board against the hospital since February.

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A complete report will appear in Thursday's Eagle-Tribune. Watch for coverage of Thursday's event at the hospital in the Friday Eagle-Tribune.

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