Saint Vincent nurses ratify contract, end longest nurses strike in Massachusetts history

Nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., have voted to ratify a new contract, officially ending a 301-day strike, according to union and hospital statements.

The vote took place Jan. 3 after nearly 10 months and more than 43 negotiating sessions. It ends the longest nurses' strike in Massachusetts history and guarantees the nurses will be able to resume working in their previous positions, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said.

"For nearly 10 months our nurses have walked the line for safer patient care, for the honor of our profession and for the right of all workers who make the difficult decision to engage in a lawful strike to return to their original positions," Marlena Pellegrino, RN, a 35-year nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit of the union, said in a news release. "As we stand here tonight, we can proudly say we have achieved our goals."

Saint Vincent, in its statement, said the hospital is ready to welcome back nurses and will soon begin recalling the nurses to work and scheduling them for reorientation. The hospital said it anticipates all returning nurses to be back at Saint Vincent by Jan. 22.

Saint Vincent announced Dec. 27 that it reopened 12 inpatient behavioral health beds that were closed in August due to staffing challenges during the strike. Those reopened beds represent 60 percent of the hospital's inpatient psychiatry capacity, and Saint Vincent said it expects to reopen more beds after all nurses return to work.

The strike began March 8, and nurses reached a tentative deal with management Dec. 17.

Nurses voted 487–9 in favor of ratifying the deal, which involves staffing improvements on a number of units sought by the nurses, the union said.

According to the union, highlights of the agreement include a limit of four patient assignments on the cardiac post-surgical unit; no more than five patients assigned to each nurse on the behavioral health unit; and improvements in the resource nurse assignment on many units. The union said the contract also includes new language regarding workplace violence against nurses, and 2 percent across-the-board pay increases each year of the contract.

The contract will run through December 2025. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars