News & Events

St. Vincent Hospital RNs Reach Tentative Agreement

Settlement Includes Improvements in Staffing Sought by Nurses

WORCESTER, MA – After a 15-hour negotiating session, the registered nurses of St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center reached a tentative agreement with management on Feb. 4, averting the need for a strike. The four-year agreement includes increases in staffing levels on a number of floors to improve patient care, as well as provides competitive wage increases of 26 – 33 percent to help recruit and retain staff. ..

“This agreement is a victory for nurses, but more importantly it is a victory for our patients as it will allow this hospital to provide the high quality care our patients deserve,” said Carolyn Moore, co-chair of the local bargaining unit at St. Vincent Hospital. “Once again, the nurses have taken a stand for their patients and their profession and once again we have won.”

The four-year agreement runs from Jan. 2, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2009. The pact includes the following key provisions:

  • Staffing Improvements – the agreement calls for adding three nurses to the recently expanded emergency department, along with increases in the night shift staffing on all the hospital’s medical/surgical, post cardiac surgery and telemetry floors, resulting in safer limits on nurses’ patient assignments on these floors. In addition, the agreement calls for the creation of “Patient Support” teams on the day and evening shifts to augment the staffing on the inpatient units. The team will consist of four nurses on each of these shifts who will move among the five medical/surgical and three telemetry floors to help with the admission and discharge of patients, assist newly licensed nurses with complex cases, and to be on hand to provide rapid response to patients in crisis. The pact also provides for an increase in ancillary staff on the maternity unit to allow RNs to provide more hands on care.
  • Salary Increase – Provides a 14.5% percent salary increase across the board while adding two new steps to the top of the salary scale (one at 5% in 2007 and one at 4.5% in 2008), which means nurses’ pay will increase between 26 and 33 percent depending on years of service. The starting hourly wage at the end of the contract will be $27.27 up from $23.82 with a top wage step of $53.70 up from $42.40.
  • Health Insurance – The union was able to prevent proposed increases in the nurses’ health insurance contributions.

The 700 nurses of St. Vincent Hospital, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, began negotiations in November 2005, with 35 sessions held. On Jan. 24, the nurses voted by a 9 to 1 margin to authorize a strike at the facility. If ratified, the contract will be the nurses’ first with Vanguard Health Systems, Inc., the newest for-profit owner of the hospital.