St. Vincent Hospital Nurses and Tenet Healthcare reach agreement ending nine-month strike
WORCESTER, Mass. (WLNE) – The 700 nurses of St. Vincent Hospital reached an agreement with Tenet Healthcare that gives the nurses the right to return to their original positions, and provides staffing improvements the nurses need to end the strike and provide for the community.
The agreement came after two weeks of discussions and was finally settled at a session this Thursday, December 17. After two years of negotiations and 43 negotiation sessions, as well as 285 days of picketing, rallies and marches, as well as support from federal, state, and municipal public officials, it was the longest nurses strike nationally in over 15 years, and the second longest nurses strike in Massachusetts history.
“We are so grateful for and humbled by the efforts of Secretary Walsh today, and so pleased to have finally reached an agreement that we believe provides us with what we need to better care for our patients that we will now take to our members for a vote to ratify and thus call an end to our historic strike,” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, longtime nurses at St. Vincent Hospital and co-chair of the St, Vincent Hospital nurses’ local bargaining unit with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “This agreement, and the improvements it includes was hard fought, and represents a true victory, not only for the nurses, but more importantly, for our patients and our community, who will have access to better nursing care, which was why our members walked that strike line for the last nine months through four seasons.”
The nurses admit they did not get everything they wanted but with these staffing improvements, they will be able to provide for patients like they deserve. The final piece of the puzzle was a “back to work” provision which guarantees all striking nurses the opportunity to return to work in the same position, hours, and shift before the strike.
“With this agreement we can go back into that building with great pride not just in what we got in writing in the agreement, but for what we have built together as nurses who know they did everything they could for their patients and their community,” said Dominique Muldoon, RN, a nurse at the hospital and Co-Chair of the bargaining unit. “Once this is ratified by the members, we are now committed to getting back into that building as soon as possible to provide the care our patients deserve.”
Specific details are being withheld until an agreement can be shared and a ratification vote is held. The nurses will hold the vote as soon as possible.
“I have nothing but pride and appreciation for all 700 nurses literally put everything on the line for their patients and this community. There are so many of our members who won’t be impacted by this agreement who stood out there with us every day for their fellow nurses, but more importantly for our patients and for the city we so proudly serve,” said Marie Ritacco, RN, a member of the nurses negotiating committee and vice president of the MNA. “We have been so moved and uplifted by all the support we received throughout this ordeal, from people honking their horns, or stopping by with food or water, for those who put up signs or walked the line with us, for the dozens of unions, community and faith-based organizations that stood with us and supported us in so many ways, for the efforts of our Congressional leaders, members of our legislative delegation, the City Council and Mayor – they all share in this agreement and we thank them all. Our strike struck a chord, and for that and because of that we will walk into that building with our heads held high.”