Tenet Massachusetts hospital, union spar over cameras, 4 other nurse strike updates

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Cameras installed by Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., are at the center of the latest disagreement to surface during a nurses' strike entering its fourth week, the Telegram & Gazette reported March 28.

The cameras are by a bridge where nurses are picketing.

Saint Vincent CEO Carolyn Jackson said the cameras are for the safety of nurses, patients and hospital visitors, according to the Telegram & Gazette. But striking nurses belonging to the Massachusetts Nurses Association said the cameras are an unnecessary expense that is designed to intimidate them.

During the strike, Saint Vincent has also implemented measures that include requiring workers to scan their employee badges before entering the hospital and requiring police officers to accompany striking workers. 

The Saint Vincent nurses began their strike March 8.

Four other updates related to the strike:

1. Saint Vincent said March 24 that more union-represented nurses are returning to work and quitting the strike. Hospital numbers indicate 117 nurses made an immediate decision to cross the picket line at the beginning of the strike, and 10 more of their colleagues have joined them.

2. The union is criticizing the hospital's spending for replacement nurses and other strike-related expenses. Massachusetts Nurses Association estimates that moving into the fourth week of the strike, hospital management will spend more than $22 million to prolong the strike. The estimate is based on the hospital revealing at the beginning of the strike that the weekly cost of replacement nurses was $5.4 million, and also includes the city's confirmed weekly cost for police details of $210,000, said union representatives. The estimate does not include Saint Vincent's cost for installation of camera systems outside the hospital entrances, or the cost of transporting the strike replacement nurses each day.

3. The union has sought a 4-1 patient-to-nurse ratio on medical/surgical floors and telemetry units, in most cases, with a resource nurse to help as needed; more emergency department staffing; and more ancillary support, according to the Telegram and Gazette.The hospital argues the union's staffing mandates are unreasonable.

4. As the nurses' strike continues, Saint Vincent reached an agreement with the union representing its ancillary staff. Saint Vincent, part of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, said in a March 20 statement that the hospital struck a deal 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.  

Read more about issues related to the nurses' strike here and here


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