News & Events

Nurses set to strike as Tufts, union won’t budge

read Boston Herald article here

By Christine McConville
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nurses at Tufts Medical Center moved closer to a strike yesterday, notifying administrators they will hit the picket lines May 6 if they don’t reach an agreement on their patient ratio demands.

Tufts Medical Center boss Tufts Medical Centersaid she has replacements lined up.

“We have no concerns about being able to properly staff the medical center,” said Zane, who said she has arranged for about 200 out-of-state registered nurses to care for patients. “We would prefer our own nurses, but these nurses come highly recommended.”

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, representing 1,100 Tufts nurses, handed its formal 10-day strike notice to Tufts management at the end of yesterday’s negotiating session. The union said the one-day strike will begin at 6 a.m. on May 6 and end the next day at 7:00 a.m. The notice doesn’t guarantee a strike, and talks will continue until May 6. But last night, neither side showed signs of backing down.

“I wish it didn’t happen, but we did what we had to do,” David Schildmeier of the nurses association said. “The hospital put the nurses in a corner.”

Zane said she won’t let striking nurses back in for at least a week, because their replacements require at least five days’ pay.

“This strike will accomplish nothing,” Zane said. “The nurses should think hard about this.”

The notice comes 11 days after more than 70 percent of Tufts nurses voted to authorize a strike. The union wants to limit the number of patients per nurse. It also wants to ban forced overtime and limit the hospital’s ability to force nurses to attend to patients in highly specialized departments for which they lack training.

Zane has said the hospital can’t afford to impose staff limits, and she said the Massachusetts Nurses Association is using Tufts nurses to advance a national nurse-patient ratio effort.

The association’s nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester also told administrators yesterday they would launch a one-day strike May 6. A St. Vincent statement said the hospital “has made the necessary arrangements for an alternative nurse staffing plan.”