Tufts claims protesters confronted replacement nurses during lockout

Nurses at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center returned to work Monday morning following a 24-hour strike and subsequent days-long lockout, according to a MassLive report.

Approximately 1,200 nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, began to strike around 7 a.m. July 12 after the union and hospital failed to reach a last-minute agreement. The strike ended around 7 a.m. July 13. However, Tufts disallowed striking nurses to return to work until Monday because the medical center needed to hire temporary replacement workers for a minimum of five days.

Nurses and their supporters continued to picket during the lockout. Tufts claims some protesters allegedly confronted replacement nurses at their hotels around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, The Boston Globe reports. Tufts spokesperson Brooke Hynes told the publication protesters shouted various things to the nurses and bus drivers, including, "Nurses, go home!" She added protesters also attempted to block buses driving replacement nurses, and claims a protester threw coffee at a driver. Tufts told The Boston Globe police were contacted to "restore order."

David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, could not verify Tufts' account. In an email to The Boston Globe, he said, "There was no violence or throwing of any objects or items [at the hotels]."

The MNA released a statement Monday morning after it first learned of the alleged incident, saying the union has "been focused on and dedicated to maintaining a peaceful picket line throughout these last several days."

"The MNA and its elected leaders were not aware of this incident, which involved members of outside organizations, until it was brought to our attention this morning by local media. ... We want to express that the MNA does not advocate the use of violence. It is dedicated to meeting the needs of patients throughout the Commonwealth by caring for and protecting them, be that at Tufts Medical Center or in community hospitals on the other side of the state ... we will continue with our peaceful picketing and family-centered activities as we head into the final 24 hours of this forced lockout," the statement reads.

The MNA said it has since learned the hospital has been unable to corroborate initial information about what happened and cited remarks from State Police indicating no violent acts occurred.

"It is a shame that this now-disproven rumor detracted from the nurses' goals of peacefully bringing public awareness to their fight for improved patient safety and improved nurse staffing," the MNA added.

Tufts' CNO Terry Hudson-Jinks, RN, MSN, told reporters Sunday afternoon Tufts officials were beefing up security for the agency nurses and she did not believe any Tufts nurses were part of the incidents, according to The Boston Globe.

Tufts and the MNA have been in negotiations since April 2016, but have not been able to reach a labor deal. That led to this week's strike, the first nurses strike in Boston since 1986. Key sticking points have included wages, staffing and retirement benefits.  The MNA and Tufts have said they will go back to the bargaining table, reports The Boston Globe.

 

 

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