Worcester Solidarity Day to Support St. Vincent Nurses Planned for Saturday, Sept. 25th as Historic Strike Surpasses 200 Days
When: Saturday, Sept, 25 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Where: At North Entrance to St. Vincent Hospital, 123 Summer St, Worcester
Community members. labor and social justice advocates from throughout Greater Worcester will join the St. Vincent nurses strike line to demonstrate public support for the nurses’ cause, call on Tenet Healthcare to cease its Illegal labor practices and negotiate an end to the strike that restores the nurses to their previous positions to ensure safer patient care
WORCESTER, MA – On Saturday, community members, labor and social justice advocates from throughout Worcester and surrounding communities will converge on the St. Vincent nurses strike line for a “Worcester Solidarity Day,” in support of the nurses call for safer patient care,
The event, which will mark day 202 of the strike, is an effort to show Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare and St. Vincent CEO Carolyn Jackson that the community is standing with the nurses in their call for an equitable end to their strike that ensures a back to work agreement that restores the nurses to their previous positions to provide care at a time when the community is struggling to confront the spread of the Delta variant.
“From the beginning of our strike, we have been amazed and humbled by the tremendous support we have received from our community, who truly understand the pivotal role we play in protecting this community, and who also understand that we are out on the street walking that picket line for one reason and one reason only – to convince Tenet Healthcare to provide us with the staffing and resources we need to keep our patients safe,” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, longtime nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA).
“The fact that we are still outside this hospital, the hospital we love and have served, some of us for 10, 20 even 40 years is a travesty and serves as an indictment of Tenet Healthcare and their unyielding desire for profit and power at the expense of the suffering of our patients and our community. 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.”
More than 700 nurses joined the strike on March 8, and more than six months later, nearly 700 nurses are honoring the strike. While the nurses continue to walk the line, their cause has been followed and supported throughout the region, the state, the nation, and yes, the world, as nurses and labor/health care advocates from nearly every continent have lent moral and material support to the nurses’ cause, seeing their struggle as a fight for humane health care delivery and workplace justice in the face of unmitigated corporate greed. From its inception, the nurses have won the support of nearly every member of the state’s congressional and legislative delegations, from Attorney General Maura Healey, the Mayor of Worcester and the entire Worcester City Council, and most recently, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These officials have sent multiple letters, passed resolutions and made multiple calls to Tenet urging them, to provide what the nurses are asking for. The nurses have also won vast community support, with multiple faith leaders and community activists holding rallies, marches and no less than four prayer vigils with the nurses outside the hospital. More than 10,000 “I support the St. Vincent Nurses” lawn signs have been distributed and are showing up outside homes and businesses from Cape Cod to Pittsfield, and several thousand community postcards have been signed and mailed to Tenet’s CEO in Worcester and in Dallas from community members.
Four weeks ago the nurses had agreed to staffing improvements negotiated throughout the strike and were ready to return to work to provide care, particularly during the current surge caused by the Delta variant, yet a final agreement was scuttled by Tenet when they demanded the nurses accept an unprecedented and punitive back to work provision that is not only unfair to nurses, but its replacement of highly skilled nurses with lesser qualified staff, would undermine all the patient safety gains the parties had negotiated. The hospital’s proposal also called for the nurses to retract all the unfair labor practice charges, opening the door for Tenet to continue its efforts to retaliate against the striking nurses. The nurses are clear that any negotiated Return to Work Agreement must also include a negotiated resolution of any and all unfair labor practice charges the nurses have filed.
As the strike continues, the nurses continue their effort to hold Tenety accountable for their actions and have filed a total of ten 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.
Tenet’s propensity for questionable and unlawful behavior is well documented, as the corporation has been subject to fines and other judgements from courts and governmental agencies totaling more than $1.8 billion over the last 20 years alone. A listing of those decisions can be found here. This includes the award in February of $10.6 million to two cardiologists at Tenet-owned Detroit Medical Center after a federal judge upheld an arbitrators’ decision that the hospital and Tenet acted with malice in firing them as retaliation for reporting violations at the facility. Four nurses at a Tenet facility in June of 2020 have also filed $25 million lawsuit against Tenet for alleged wrongful discharge, retaliation against whistleblowers, and intentional and/or reckless infliction of emotional distress, after the nurses reported preventable patient deaths in their emergency department due to understaffing during the height of the COVID crisis. And in February of 2020, Tenet and one of its California hospitals agreed to pay $1.41 million to settle false claims allegations brought by the federal government for knowingly charging Medicare for implanting unnecessary cardiac monitors into patients.
“As difficult as this has been for all of us, we take enormous comfort from the support we have received and continue to receive from all sectors of our local community and from around the world,” said Dominique Muldoon, RN, another longtime nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit. “No matter what lies and misinformation our CEO puts out, the public understands the core message of our strike, as shown on one of our signs, which is ‘if nurses are out here, there is something wrong in there.’ The public understands the key role we play in their care, particularly after what we all went through last year, and they know we doing this not for personal gain, but to keep them safe.”
For more background on the strike and the issues involved, click here to learn more.
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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.