800 Tenet Massachusetts hospital nurses begin strike

Eight hundred nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., began an open-ended strike March 8.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents the nurses, said members are striking over staffing and patient care. Nurses issued an official 10-day notice Feb. 23, after authorizing the strike Feb. 10.  

"This is a strike for the safety of our patients and our community," Marlena Pellegrino, RN, co-chair of the local bargaining unit of the union, said in a March 8 news release. 

She said nurses are committed to doing whatever is necessary to protect patients and remain ready to resume negotiations whenever hospital management is.

The strike comes after 18 months of negotiations. The union said hospital management is not doing enough to address lack of appropriate staffing that jeopardizes patient safety. The hospital contends it listened to nurses and offered a proposal with a generous wage package, enhanced emergency room security and increases in staffing guidelines.

Saint Vincent, part of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, has prepared for the strike by hiring replacement nurses and said it may revise its offer to account for the costs related to the strike.

"We value our relationship with all our employees, and we are committed to resolving the contract negotiations," the hospital said in a March 7 news release. "While we respect the nurses' right to strike, patients and their loved ones can be assured that our patients will continue to be cared for by qualified replacement registered nurses during this strike action and our hospital will be operational during this time."

Nurses are scheduled to strike from 6 a.m. to midnight daily until an agreement is reached.


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