WORCESTER, Mass. – The 800 nurses of St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester will begin an open-ended strike today at 6 a.m. against Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare in the wake of the for-profit conglomerate’s refusal to heed nurses’ longstanding call for desperately needed staffing improvements to ensure safer patient care.
“This is a strike for the safety of our patients and our community” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, co-chair of the local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “We are sad to see that Tenet holds so little value for our patients, yet we are resolved to do whatever it takes for as long as it take to protect our patients, as it is safer to strike now than allow Tenet to continue endangering our patients every day on every shift. As we begin our a strike, we are always ready to get back to the table to negotiate whenever Tenet is ready do the same.”
Open-Ended Strike Begins
When: Monday, March 8 at 6.a.m
Where: Outside the Summer Street Entrance to St. Vincent Hospital
What: SVH nurses who were not scheduled to work the night prior to the strike will gather outside the hospital to greet their colleagues working the night shift as they exit the hospital, pick up their signs and begin the open-ended strike. Nurses will be picketing every day from 6 a.m. – 12 midnight until a settlement is reached.
Learn more and support St. Vincent nurses: www.massnurses.org/StVincentNurses.
The 800 SVH nurses, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), voted overwhelmingly on Feb. 10 to authorize the strike, and last week issued the required notice to conduct an open-ended strike beginning at 6 a.m. on March 8. The decision to strike followed a concerted effort over the last two years by the nurses to convince Tenet to improve the patient care conditions at the facility, poor conditions that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Adding insult to injury, the same day nurses voted to authorize the strike, Tenet announced annual profits of more than $400 million.
In the last year alone, nurses have filed more than 600 official “unsafe staffing” reports (more than 110 such reports have been filed since Jan. 1, 2021) in which nurses informed management in real time that patient care conditions jeopardized the safety of their patients. The nurses also report their patients in Worcester are experiencing an increase in patient falls, an increase in patients suffering from preventable bed sores, potentially dangerous delays in patients receiving needed medications and other treatments – all due to lack of appropriate staffing, excessive patient assignments, and cuts to valuable support staff.
While Tenet has refused to ensure safe care to patients in Worcester Adding insult to injury, that same day, Tenet announced annual profits of more than $400 million.
The strike will be the second strike by nurses at St Vincent Hospital against Tenet, as the nurses waged a successful 49-day strike in 2000 to achieve their first union contract. That strike ended with a settlement reached in the DC offices of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, where the nurses achieved landmark provisions to limit the use of mandatory overtime as a staffing tool, one of the first settlements in the nation to provide such a protection.
For a more detailed review of the staffing crisis, efforts by nurses to convince Tenet to address the crisis, as well as proposals nurses are seeking to improve patient care, click here to view a previous press release on the matter.