Tenet Massachusetts hospital, ancillary staff reach labor deal; nurses' strike enters 3rd week

Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., has reached an agreement with the union representing its ancillary staff as nurses at the hospital began the third week of a strike March 22.

Saint Vincent, part of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, said in a March 20 statement that the hospital reached the agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 after 10 bargaining sessions.

The agreement covers 600 workers, including patient care assistants, critical care techs, housekeepers, transporters and unit secretaries.  

Under the contract, there is a mutual respect clause "that ensures everyone will treat each other with respect and dignity at all times," said Saint Vincent. Hospital and union officials confirmed the labor deal also includes pay and staffing increases, according to the Telegram & Gazette.

Local 1445 has expressed concerns about patient safety and staffing during negotiations. 

Elaine O'Neil, bargaining director for the union, said March 20 that certain staffing ratios are not guaranteed in the new contract, but the deal will result in 35 new hires and two new committees aimed at addressing workers' concerns, the Telegram & Gazette reported.

Ms. O'Neil said one of the new committees will focus on safety issues, while the other committee and new hires will focus on addressing staffing concerns related to situations in which a worker is needed to provide round-the-clock monitoring of a patient.

The agreement between Local 1445 and Saint Vincent comes amid a nurses' strike at the hospital that began March 8.

The strike involves nurses belonging to the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents 800 Saint Vincent nurses.

A point of contention in the negotiations, which have lasted more than a year, is staffing.  

The union said staffing is inadequate and puts patients at risk, and staff in the hospital have reported that replacement nurses used during a walkout didn't care for patients adequately. 

The hospital said its staffing is safe and effective and the union's staffing mandates are unreasonable.

Read more about the strike here and here.


More articles on human resources:
Lawmakers to Maine Medical Center: 'Fire union busters,' let nurses vote freely
Tenet Massachusetts hospital nurses strike enters second week; another union pickets: 7 things to know
UnityPoint Health-Meriter nurses set possible strike date

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