St. Vincent Hospital Nurses Ratify New Contract, End Nearly 10 Month Strike

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WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Nurses from St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester voted overwhelmingly Monday night to ratify a new contract with their employer Tenet Health to end a nearly 10-month long strike.

In a landslide vote, nurses voted 487 to 9 to ratify the new contract which ends the 301-day long strike, the longest nurse strike in state history. The new contract clears the way for the nurses to return to work and allow the hospital to resume care at full capacity.

Marlena Pellegrino, a registered nurse at the hospital and the co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said in a statement this vote shows the strike was a success.

“This is an enormous victory for our patients and our members, and it is a testament to the grit and determination of every nurse who walked that line, day in and day out, through four seasons, 18 hours a day, in snow, pouring rain, through blazing heat and stifling humidity – all for the good of our community,” Pellegrino said. “As we conclude this struggle, our eyes are focused on the future, on returning to our home, to the hospital bedside to do what we love the most, which is to provide the high-quality care our patients expect and deserve.

As a part of the new contract, nurses will see a two percent raise every year of the contract and will get retroactive pay for 2020 and 2021. In an effort to improve safety at the hospital, two nurses will serve on the Hospital Workplace Safety Committee and includes provisions for compensation if a nurse is assaulted on the job.

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The new contract also includes new limits on how many patients a nurse can have at one time, which varies on the unit the nurse is working in. The final provision allows all of the striking nurses to return to their jobs. A spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement they will begin recalling nurses and expect them to all return by Jan. 22.

"We are pleased that our nurses decided to bring the strike to an end by voting to ratify this contract," the statement reads. "We are ready to welcome back every nurse who chooses to return to Saint Vincent, and we have plans in place to make that process as smooth as possible. We are also eager to restore access to temporarily closed services so that we can better serve the needs of our community."

The striking nurses and Tenet Healthcare originally came to a temporary agreement back on Dec. 17, after weeks of discussions with federal mediators, including U.S. Labor Secretary and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

WBZ's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports.

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