News & Events

Mayor Joseph M. Petty Statement on the ongoing nurses strike at St. Vincent Hospital, Calls for Intervention by Dallas-based Tenet CEO to Resolve Dispute

Mayor Joseph M. Petty Statement on the ongoing nurses strike at St. Vincent Hospital
On September 18th I held a press conference with the CEO of UMass Memorial Healthcare Dr. Eric Dickson where he detailed a growing crisis in our city driven by a dramatic increase in our residents contracting COVID-19 as a result of the spread of the Delta Variant.  This is a crisis driven by a shortage of beds and staff to adequately meet the growing demand for life saving care in our community and the reluctance of some to be vaccinated. 
As of today, that crisis has yet to abate, and our health care system and those who we depend on to care for us when it matters most are being pushed to the limits of their endurance. A major contributing cause of this crisis is the loss of desperately needed beds and services and the more than 700 nurses prevented from staffing those beds due to what is now the longest nurse’s strike in our state’s history.  These are the nurses who have cared for us with care, dignity and distinction for decades, the same nurses who day after day risked their lives and their families lives to keep us safe at the height of the pandemic in 2020. 
It is my understanding that the nurses are ready and willing to reach an agreement and are desperate to return to their jobs.  Tenet Healthcare is demanding that these nurses end this strike with no guarantee that they will retain their previous positions or a commitment that they can return to work without fear of retaliation. These demands are unprecedented and violate the standard practice in any and all strikes and the high labor standards that we expect from all employers in our city. As our city's Mayor, I believe in the right of all workers to make a stand for better working conditions, including the right to wage a lawful strike. 
Worcester is a proud union city, and I am proud of our community’s support for workers’ rights. I have been proud to stand with the Saint Vincent’s nurses for the last 203 days because they are fighting to protect the health and safety of all the people in the community and the rights of workers everywhere. The demand put upon them by the hospitals corporate owners is not only unjust, it is detrimental to the safe restoration of services for our community. I want Tenet to know that we will not allow Worcester to be a testing ground for the imposition of unprecedented labor practices that harm unions and all workers. And when it comes to our nurses, who have given so much to us for so many years, I want Tenet to know that we in Worcester believe that they are irreplaceable.
Let me be clear, this strike needs to end and it needs to end now. Because the local leadership of the hospital seems incapable of negotiating an equitable end to the strike, I hereby call upon Dr. Saum Sutaria, the corporate head of Tenet Healthcare in Dallas, to come to Worcester as soon as possible to negotiate in good faith.  I am asking that he and the Tenant team work with our nurses to resolve all issues in this dispute, so we can address the needs of our community and end this crisis.