Nurses Have Held Two Strikes Against the Same Profit-Hungry Employer Over the Same Issue –Safer Patient Care
March 31 event will feature nurses who were on strike in 2000 with their daughters or sons who are now involved in current strike, showing the everlasting value of patient and community advocacy
WORCESTER, MA – Across two decades and two powerful strikes by St. Vincent Hospital nurses, two main themes have remained constant: Nurses and their community have stood up for safer patient care, and for-profit corporation Tenet Healthcare has wasted millions of dollars putting its drive for greater profits above patient safety.
Two generations of St. Vincent nurses will mark the 21st anniversary of the start of the 2000 strike against Tenet on March 31 with an event on the nurses’ strike line featuring nurses who were on strike 21 years ago and their daughters or sons who are now involved in the current strike, which will reach its 24th day on Wednesday.
21st Anniversary of SVH Strike Event
Date: Wednesday, March 31
Time: 2 p.m.
Details: The event will highlight a number of nurses and daughters/sons, all of whom are nurses at St. Vincent linked by a passion for patient and community advocacy, forged in one generation of nurses and now carried on into the next. It will also feature a visit by Congressman Jim McGovern, a strong supporter of the current strike, and one of the leaders who helped settle the first strike in 2000.
“While we are disheartened that Tenet has chosen once again to waste millions of dollars to force a strike at our hospital, we are awe-inspired by our new generation of SVH nurses who have once again taken the courageous step to stand up for the safety of our patients at all costs. The baton of advocacy has been passed and the future of our profession looks bright,“ said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, longtime nurse at St. Vincent Hospital who participated in the 2000 strike and is now a leader of this one.
On Wednesday, nurses who participated in that strike and who are involved in this one, will be joined by a newer generation of nurses, who are now making a similar fight, with this one focused directly on the need for safer staffing levels to address a longstanding patient safety crisis at the hospital driven by Tenet’s corporate leadership in Dallas, which has implemented a plan to cut and furlough staff, and to reap billions in federal stimulus money to boost their profit margin even during a pandemic, netting a profit last year of $414 million.
The 800 SVH nurses, who are represented by the MNA voted overwhelmingly on Feb. 10 to authorize the strike, and began 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 have experienced 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.
2000 SVH Strike Info
On March 31, 2000, more than 500 nurses at St. Vincent Hospital conducted a 49-day strike to win their first contract with Tenet Healthcare, with the main issue being the nurses’ effort to oppose Tenet’s plan to use mandatory overtime, i.e., forcing nurses against their will to work double shifts as alternative to providing appropriate nurse staffing to ensure safe patient care.
For a more detailed review of the current 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.
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.