WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Registered nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester have authorized a strike, amid stalled talks for contract negotiations.
The vote by the hospital's 800 registered nurses does not absolutely guarantee a strike will happen, but calls for it to take place within the next 10 days.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association said that the nurses are objecting to the hospital owner Tenant Healthcare’s refusal to address their concerns during the pandemic, which include staffing issues, a lack of safety in patient care and more.
"For months, nurses have been struggling to care for patients without appropriate staffing levels, adequate personal protective equipment, and in the wake of furloughs and daily staff reductions that have left them unable to provide the care and attention patients, particularly desperately ill COVID-19 infected patients require," the association said.
The vote on the strike was scheduled after Tenet issued what the company called its “last, best and final” offer for negotiations on Jan. 28, 2021.
However nurses argue that Tenet can "easily afford" to provide the improvements they are demanding.
"St. Vincent Hospital has been one of Tenet’s most profitable hospitals, and St. Vincent is one of the most profitable hospitals in Massachusetts," the group said. "In 2019, the hospital posted record profits of more than $73 million, a profit margin of 14 percent, four times the state average for hospitals and five times the profit margin for UMass Memorial Medical Center, a facility that provides the staffing levels the nurses at St. Vincent are seeking, while also paying their nurses significantly more and providing better health and pension benefits."
Hospital officials have opposed the strike, saying that it would only "accelerate divisiveness" for the hospital's patients and surrounding community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association said another negotiating session for the contact is set to take place on Thursday.
WBZ’s John Baibak (@JohnBaibak) reports.