BOSTON – The registered nurses elected to represent their 1,200 colleagues at Tufts Medical Center will return to negotiations at the federal mediator’s office in Boston on Tuesday, July 11 in an attempt to reach an agreement with Tufts on safe patient care, retirement and other outstanding issues ahead of an historic 24-hour strike planned for July 12.
Tufts nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, are prepared to hold a one-day strike beginning at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, July 12 and running until 6:59 a.m. on Thursday, July 13 unless Tufts agrees to a fair contract that properly values nurses and ensures patients have the highly skilled Tufts nursing care they need.
“Tufts nurses have proposed solutions for our hospital’s staffing and patient care problems and a way to fund those solutions,” said Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, an OR nurse and bargaining unit co-chair. “We hope that Tufts management will sit down on Tuesday, listen to its nurses and decide to actually negotiate.
“The hospital wants to take away long-earned retirement benefits of hundreds of Tufts nurses,” Havlicek Cornacchia said. “Instead, we have proposed a different pension plan that would mean $11 million in immediate savings for the hospital and an $85 million reduction in liabilities. We are ready to negotiate for real solutions for our patients and our nurses on Tuesday, but we are also prepared to strike for 24 hours if Tufts is not willing to negotiate.”
RN Public Schedule for Tuesday-Thursday
10 a.m. Tuesday, July 11: Tufts nurses will return to the bargaining table at the federal mediator’s office at 99 Summer St. in Boston.
7 a.m. Wednesday, July 12: One-day strike begins if Tufts management refuses to agree to a fair contract that protects patients and values nurses. Nurses and supporters will gather outside the main entrance of the hospital at 800 Washington St. in Boston. Picketing will begin and continue through the duration of the 24-hour strike and potential hospital lock out.
12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 12: Rallies outside the hospital at 800 Washington St. in Boston with nurses, staff, community supporters and local leaders.
6:59 a.m. Thursday, July 13: One-day RN strike ends. Nurses will gather outside the hospital at 800 Washington St. in Boston and those scheduled to work plan to enter Tufts to care for their patients. The hospital has threatened to lock out nurses for four days.
The Truth about Tufts Strike Replacement Nurses
During the planned 24-hour strike by Tufts nurses, TMC management plans to bring in mercenary replacement nurses from all over the country who do not know the hospital, are not highly specialized like the Tufts nurses, and who the Massachusetts Nurses Association believes will endanger patient care.
History, academic studies and unionized registered nurses can all testify to the fact that mercenary replacement nurses cannot make up for the temporary loss of nurses who are specialized in their fields and knowledgeable of their patients and the hospital systems. A 2010 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded, “Hiring replacement workers apparently does not help: hospitals that hired replacement workers performed no better during strikes than those that did not hire substitute employees. In each case, patients with conditions that required intensive nursing were more likely to fare worse in the presence of nurses’ strikes.”
During the 2000 strike by MNA nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, three replacement nurses recruited by the same strike replacement nurse agency Tufts plans to use, were fired after separate incidents in which they left a patient alone after surgery and also gave the wrong baby to a nursing mother, according to news reports by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and WCVB Channel 5. Another patient was given a nearly fatal overdose of morphine because a replacement nurse misunderstood a doctor’s order, according to Channel 5.
“It can take several weeks to orientate even an experienced nurse to provide quality care under normal conditions," said Barbara Tiller, union co-chair and an IV/PICC/CRN nurse. “How can they possibly expect to safely operate this hospital with nurses drawn from all parts of the country who have no experience with our facility? It is irresponsible. Instead of issuing ultimatums and spending millions of dollars to ignore us, it’s time they listened to us and offered a fair settlement that values safe patient care over corporate profits.”
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.