News & Events

St. Vincent Nurses Response to Tenet’s Announcement Today of Their Implementation of Last, Best, and Final Offer After Declaring Illegal Impasse

The Massachusetts Nurses Association has filed the 11th in a series of charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board today in response to an announcement by Tenet Healthcare that they will implement their last offer to the nurses following what the nurses contend is an illegal declaration of impasse in the negotiations over a new contract.

“As we mentioned earlier this week, Tenet’s decision has no impact on our strike on a legal or practical level as all it allows Tenet to do is to implement its last offer for those inside the hospital.  There will be no improvement in patient care due this decision because Tenet cannot provide the staffing needed to safely implement the improvements in patient care we thought we had negotiated in August, as the 700 nurses who could provide that level of care are out on the street, and those replacement nurses inside lack the experience and understanding of our hospital to make it work,” said Marlena Pellegrino, a longtime nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

This declaration of impasse and today’s announcement is puzzling since it offers nothing new to the strike landscape.  Indeed, the nurses have believed that since August Tenet has provoked an unlawful, bad faith impasse that has unnecessarily lengthened the strike. If the nurses’ unfair labor practice charge is upheld, Tenet would be required to rescind any terms implemented.

“We view it as just another attempt in the long line of tactics meant to cause division and retaliate against the striking nurses. It has no impact whatsoever or on our effort to achieve safer patient care, a fair return to work agreement and a resolution of the many outstanding unfair labor practice issues behind this historic work stoppage,”

Tenet’s attempt to declare an impasse implementing their last offer is not being made in good faith as it is compromised by its inclusion of an illegal bonus for replacement nurses, and by one or more of the unfair labor practices involving their actions regarding the return of nurses to work. 

With this decision, Tenet, which has already spent more than $100 million to force and prolong this strike, is ceasing all efforts to reach an agreement to end the strike to allow the striking nurses to return to their previous positions so the hospital can safely reopen beds and services the community needs to address the surge caused by the Delta variant.

“There are several hundred vacancies posted, and the numbers of vacancies has increased not decreased, which is a sign that they are having trouble recruiting nurses, and that nurses are leaving due to the conditions inside,” said Pellegrino.  “We have verified reports of newly hired nurses choosing to leave after experiencing the condition inside the hospital, including one floor where nearly every newly hired nurse left within a few weeks.  We have also received reports of those few strikers who crossed over in recent weeks now leaving for other facilities.”

Pellegrino added, “Our nurses want nothing more than to be back at the bedside to provide our patients with the dignity and expert care they expect and deserve from this, their community hospital.  Unfortunately, Tenet has refused an agreement that would allow that to happen, choosing instead to spend millions to keep us out, to pursue illegal practices to punish us for our advocacy — all to avoid accountability for providing safe patient care.”

As the strike continues, the nurses continue their effort to hold Tenet accountable for their actions and have filed a total of eleven unfair labor practices against the corporation for its actions prior to and throughout the strike including making unlawful threats against striking nurses, retaliation and discrimination towards striking nurses, promises of benefits to non-strikers, and bad faith bargaining tactics, all designed to break the strike and to remove MNA as the nurses’ bargaining agent.  This conduct has greatly disturbed the nurses, who are now demanding that any return-to-work agreement must also include resolution of the unfair labor practices and the conduct underlying them.

The announcement of the charges followed  a scathing news report detailing heart-wrenching stories by patients and staff inside the hospital about deplorable patient care conditions and the lack of safe and compassionate care being provided by the replacement nurses hired by Tenet to work during the strike.  The striking nurses report seeing a dramatic increase in med flight helicopters coming to the hospital to transport patients to other facilities, and since the closure of beds and the hiring of novice replacement nurses, they have received reports from inside the hospital of patients, from the elderly to newborns, being transferred to other area hospitals because the staff was incapable of providing needed care. 

Without an agreement, the strike will continue as the nurses continue to work with all relevant entities find a way to move the process to a just resolution. . 

For more background on the strike and the issues involved, click here to learn more.