WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A strike is not ending any time soon for the 800 nurses on the picket line at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester.
Following an hours-long negotiation session on Monday with the hospital's Dallas-based owner Tenet Healthcare, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said the company did not properly address the groups concerns.
"Unfortunately, Tenet came to the table without addressing the nurses call for safer staffing standards that [they] had raised prior to the strike," the union said in a statement.
The nurses have been asking the hospital to increase staffing levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, alleging that having nurses care for too many patients at once and cutting critical positions have endangered patient safety.
"In  alone, nurses have filed more than 600 official “unsafe staffing” reports (more than 110 such reports have been filed since January 1, 2021)" the union said. "The nurses also report their patients in Worcester have experienced an increase in patient falls, an increase in patients suffering from preventable bed sores [and] potentially dangerous delays in patients receiving needed medications and other treatments."
Tenet Healthcare said they have offered a "comprehensive" proposal to the nurses that includes changes to wages and benefits, along with the staffing levels they have proposed in the past.
According to the nurses union, the only change to the pre-strike offer was the proposed creation of a committee to "review the current insufficient staffing levels every quarter, with no commitment to actually improve conditions to ensure safer patient care."
The strike now enters its eighth week, after it first started on March 8. Since the effort began, the nurses have garnered the support of the Worcester City Council, Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
That comes as Congresswoman Lori Trahan will be visiting nurses on the strike line on Tuesday morning, and the Worcester Interfaith Coalition will hold a third candlelight vigil on Tuesday night in support of the union.
WBZ’s John Baibak (@JohnBaibak) reports.