Where things stand between Tenet, Massachusetts Nurses Association: 8 things to know

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Nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., entered the 10th week of their strike May 10, as the labor dispute between the union representing about 800 nurses at the facility and the hospital's parent company, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, remains unresolved after recent negotiations.

Eight things to know:

1. Saint Vincent nurses have been on strike since March 8, with staffing being a major point of contention between the parties. The union has sought a 4-1 patient-to-nurse ratio on medical/surgical floors and telemetry units, in most cases, as well as resource nurses and other staff on various units. Saint Vincent said it will not agree to across-the-board 4-1 staffing on medical surgical units. 

2. Hospital management and the Massachusetts Nurses Association met April 26 for their first negotiations since nurses went on strike, after a federal mediator scheduled the talks.

3. The union said the hospital did not sufficiently address staffing improvements needed to ensure safer care and end the strike during the April 26 negotiations. The hospital said its April 26 proposal included a generous wage and benefits offer as well as staffing concessions from Saint Vincent's March 1 proposal, and an audit committee that would hold the hospital accountable to staffing grids. The process involves hiring an independent auditor, chosen by the hospital and union, and adopts an expedited arbitration process. 

4. Both sides held another round of negotiations May 1. Saint Vincent said it came to the table with an alternative offer that contains Worcester-based UMass Memorial Medical Center's staffing language, and maintains the same prospective wage increases during the life of the new agreement as the offer the hospital presented April 26. The union praised the alternative proposal, saying it "opens the door to a substantive discussion on the nurses' main issue, which is the need for safer staffing levels to ensure safer patient care." The hospital also kept its last proposal from April 26 on the table.

5. The union and hospital management met again May 5. The Massachusetts Nurses Association said, "some movement was made in some areas," but "there are still significant differences on the issue of staffing." After the May 5 meeting, the hospital said it offered the same staffing language as the UMass Memorial Medical Center collective bargaining agreement, and "the evening ended without an agreement but with a counterproposal from the MNA that was not just about staffing, despite their claims."

6. When the May 5 session ended, the hospital said it asked the federal mediator to encourage the Massachusetts Nurses Association to vote on the hospital's latest offer. The union said nurses rejected the hospital's latest offer on May 6. 

7. Amid the most recent negotiations, a group of lawmakers wrote a letter to Tenet May 5, calling on the for-profit hospital operator to expedite Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act benefits for striking nurses. In response to the letter, Saint Vincent said it is not delaying the processing of any paperwork regarding COBRA coverage or potential subsidy eligibility for nurses and plans to meet all required deadlines.

8. Members of Congress also sent a separate letter to Tenet May 5, urging the hospital and union "to support efforts to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the entire community, the hospital and its workers."

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