Nurses voted to authorize a strike because Dana-Farber is undermining the stability of its nursing workforce in Merrimack Valley and putting patient care quality at risk by not settling a fair contract
METHUEN, Mass. – The registered nurses of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Merrimack Valley, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, voted on Wednesday, August 2 to authorize a one-day strike because Dana-Farber executives have refused to agree to a fair contract that would provide equal benefits and competitive pay, and enable nurses to provide the high-quality cancer care Merrimack Valley patients deserve.
Turnout for the vote was 34 out of 37 nurses (92%). Ninety-seven percent (33-1) of the DFCI – MV nurses who turned out voted in favor of a potential strike. The vote gives the nurses elected to the DFCI – MV MNA Bargaining Committee authorization to hold a one-day strike if necessary. A strike date has not been selected. If scheduled, that date will be announced to the public once the hospital has been given the 10-day notice required by law. DFCI – MV nurses would then plan to hold a 24-hour strike unless DFCI agreed to a fair contract by that date.
“Merrimack Valley nurses deserve better than the way Dana-Farber is treating us at the bargaining table,” said Kerrin Albert, Infusion RN at DFCI – MV. “Dana-Farber’s slogan is, ‘Together, we can defy cancer,’ except the executives in charge are not actually about unity, instead they are undervaluing the care we provide to cancer patients in Merrimack Valley.”
“Dana-Farber executives have put us in this position to authorize a strike by proposing pay and benefits that are substantially less than other nurses in the same healthcare system, therefore jeopardizing our workforce and putting patient care at risk,” said Kate Mitchell, FNP-BC, AOCNP at DFCI – MV. “It is critical that Dana-Farber retains its nurses in Merrimack Valley so that we can continue providing advanced cancer and blood disorder treatments to local residents.”
“Dana-Farber nurses in Merrimack Valley deserve equal benefits and competitive pay, and by refusing to settle a fair contract, DFCI is telling local nurses and patients it does not value us as much because of where we live,” said Errin D’Arcangelo, Oncology Nurse Navigator at DFCI – MV. “Dana-Farber executives have the power to make a positive difference and avert this strike by settling a fair contract.”
DFCI – MV nurses held an informational picket on June 2 attended by nurses, community members, union supporters, and elected officials. Among those in attendance supporting the nurses were State Senator Pavel Payano, D-Lawrence, and State Representative Ryan Hamilton, D-Methuen.
“As you know, these healthcare professionals are on the front lines of caring for patients and liaising with families,” Rep. Hamilton wrote in an August 2 letter to Dr. Laurie Glimcher, president, and CEO of Dana-Farber. “They play a vital role here in Merrimack Valley by supporting patients through the hardship of a cancer diagnosis and bolstering our fight against this disease. But a lack of basic employment protections, the denial of equal retirement and benefits options, and a substantial gap in pay between nurses based in Boston and nurses based in Merrimack Valley are threatening the good work of these community members.”
DFCI – Merrimack Valley opened in 2020 with 24 exam rooms and 32 infusion bays. The location offers expanded cancer and blood disorder care and outpatient services for adult patients in the region. DFCI – MV nurses voted in June and July 2022 to form a union and join the MNA in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The MNA also represents approximately 600 nurses at the DFCI main campus in Boston under a separate contract.
- DFCI – MV nurses are negotiating a first MNA contract with DFCI. Nurses recently requested a federal mediator join negotiations.
- Through the mediator on July 13, DFCI told Merrimack Valley nurses that they were not entitled to the same benefits as Boston-based DFCI nurses.
- DFCI has also refused to agree to competitive wages to help recruit and retain nurses. MV nurses have proposed wages that are less than what DFCI Boston nurses earn, and DFCI has still said no.
- DFCI’s approach in negotiations has been disrespectful to nurses and the community. Merrimack Valley patients deserve to be valued equally to patients in Boston or anywhere else. DFCI must settle a fair contract with MV nurses to demonstrate its commitment to local patients.
Dana-Farber Financial Highlights
- DFCI made $110 million in profits (excess of revenue over expenses) during the fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2023, according to the Center for Health Information and Analysis. It made $87.5 million during the previous quarter.
- DFCI’s total operating revenue for the first six months of fiscal 2023 was approximately $1.5 billion, an increase of $196.9 million, or 15.7 percent, over the same period in 2022.
- Dr. Laurie Glimcher, president and CEO of Dana-Farber, saw a 15.4% increase in pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. The institute’s IRS 990 form shows Glimcher made more than $2 million in total compensation during FY2021.