1,200 Tufts Medical Center RNs give go-ahead for possible strike

Nearly 1,200 registered nurses at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center voted Wednesday for a potential one-day strike after approximately a year of contract negotiations.

The nurses, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted with a 95 percent majority for strike authorization, the union said in a news release. The vote allows the union to call a strike, but it does not necessarily mean nurses will walk off the job. The union said it plans to call a strike "should hospital management continue to refuse to address several urgent contract issues."

"None of us want to go on strike," Barbara Tiller, co-chair of the MNA bargaining unit at Tufts and a hospital nurse, said in the release. "But after hundreds upon hundreds of hours sitting with management trying to discuss these urgent issues, it has become apparent that our concerns are not being heard. For the health and safety of our patients, for the futures of our newest nurses and for the security of Tufts RNs, overall we needed to take this next step."

The hospital expressed disappointment about the strike authorization vote in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. Tufts said contract negotiations with the union began in April 2016, and the hospital "continue[s] to make progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement for our nurses." In fact, the hospital said it "reached tentative agreements on several components of the contract" earlier in March.

"It is unfortunate that the union is asking our nurses to consider a strike when we are committed to working with them to resolve any remaining differences," the hospital said in the statement. "We believe that our patients and this community benefit when we have a productive, respectful relationship, with each side focused on promoting excellence in nursing and safe, quality patient care."

The union said more than 20 bargaining sessions have taken place since last April. The MNA said key issues that still need to be addressed include staffing, wages and benefits and nurses' pensions. The union said the next bargaining sessions are scheduled for April 3 and April 13.


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