Tufts nurses locked out after strike ends

Nurses at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center ended their 24-hour strike Thursday, but they will not be able to return to work until next week, reports The Boston Globe.

The nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, began to strike around 7 a.m. Wednesday after the union and hospital failed to reach a last-minute agreement Tuesday night. The strike ended around 7 a.m. Thursday, and more than 100 striking nurses tried unsuccessfully to return to work.

Tufts has said nurses who chose to strike would not be able to work again until around 7 a.m. Monday because the medical center needed to hire temporary replacement workers for a minimum of five days.

"The unionized RNs at Tufts Medical Center wrapped up their one-day strike at 7 a.m. this morning, but — as expected — were met at the door by security who informed them that they were being locked out and would not be allowed to return to work until 7 a.m. on Monday," the union said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

The MNA added, "Although the hospital told the nurses this would happen, it was still disappointing and disheartening to be turned away from returning to their patients. They want to work. They are ready to work. And they would rather see the hospital take the money it is spending on replacement nurses for five days and put that money towards settling a fair contract that improves patient care and nurses retention."

The union said nurses will continue to picket around the clock during the lockout.

Tufts spokesperson Rhonda Mann called the nurses' attempt to return to work Thursday "a stunt orchestrated for the media" in a statement obtained by The Boston Globe.

Tufts and the MNA have been in negotiations since April 2016, but have not been able to reach a labor deal. That led to this week's strike, the first nurses strike in Boston since 1986. Key sticking points have included wages, staffing and retirement benefits.

In a media briefing Thursday, Tufts reported 13 of the approximately 1,200 nurses represented by the MNA crossed the picket line.


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