Nurses ratify new contract, end nearly 10-month strike

Jan 3, 2022, 8:10 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2022, 11:13 pm

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The longest nurses strike in Massachusetts history came to an end Monday when unionized nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester voted to ratify a new four-year deal with management.

The agreement was overwhelmingly approved 487 to 9 in favor of ratification, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association union. The 301-day strike was the longest in the nation in the past 15 years, the union said.

“We go back in that building with our heads held high focused on healing, not only our patients, but to work with all in our hospital community to rebuild and restore a sense of stability,” said Marlena Pellegrino, a longtime St. Vincent nurse and co-chair of the union’s bargaining unit.

“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,” Pellegrino said in a statement from the union.

St. Vincent Hospital said in a statement it would “work diligently to heal the wounds of the past year as we integrate striking nurses.”

“We are ready to welcome back every nurse who chooses to return to St. Vincent, and we have plans in place to make that process as smooth as possible,” the hospital said.

The tentative agreement between about 700 St. Vincent nurses and management had been announced on Dec. 17 after an all-day bargaining session mediated by U.S. Labor Secretary and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The nurses went on strike March 8, demanding that management at St. Vincent, owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, increase staffing ratios to improve patient care during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

The hospital countered that it was irresponsible to strike during a public health crisis and that staffing levels met industry standards. In July, the hospital announced it was scaling back some services and reducing capacity in response to the strike.

But while the sometimes-contentious work stoppage was originally over staffing levels, it later became about whether nurses who had been walking the picket line for months would be able to return to their old jobs after the hospital started hiring replacements.

The agreement includes staffing improvements and allows all nurses who went on strike the right to return to work in the same position, hours, and shifts that they held prior to the work stoppage.

It also includes language intended to better protect nurses from violent patients, pay increases through 2025, and enhanced health insurance benefits for some union members.

“They wanted nothing more than to return to work for months, and they risked their livelihoods on the picket line each day to achieve that goal,” U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan said in a statement Monday evening, praising the nurses for remaining on strike “until they secured the protections and staffing conditions their patients deserve.”

The hospital now has 30 days to issue recall letters to the striking nurses, but both sides expect them to start returning to work well before that deadline. St. Vincent said Monday it expects nurses to be back on the job by Jan. 22.

The benefits of the deal have already been seen. St. Vincent announced last week it has reopened 12 inpatient behavioral health beds that were closed in August due to staffing challenges presented by the strike.

There were a number of high-profile strikes across the country last year as labor unions feel emboldened to hold out for more amid ongoing worker shortages.

___

Follow AP coverage of how the coronavirus pandemic is transforming the economy at: https://apnews.com/hub/changing-economy

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks via video-link at a donor conference for Ukraine hel...
Associated Press

Ukraine wants donors to give more money to ‘stop Russia’

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western nations Thursday to provide more money to help Ukraine’s military keep fighting nearly 5½ months after Russia invaded its neighbor. “The sooner we stop Russia, the sooner we can feel safe,” Zelenskyy said while addressing defense leaders at a Denmark conference aimed at strengthening […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippine leader threatens to fire officials in sugar mess

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president has threatened to fire top agricultural officials if an investigation shows they improperly announced a decision to import sugar amid a shortage without his approval, his press secretary said Thursday. It’s the stiffest punitive step newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could take against officials over an apparent […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Don’t bank on your business to fund your retirement

Retirement can loom like a dark cloud for small-business owners. Many invest blood, sweat and tears — and every penny — into building their business but never set cash aside for the future. A huge number of entrepreneurs have reported putting aside no retirement savings at all. For some, selling the business is their only […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Indiana officer critically wounded in traffic stop shooting

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — An eastern Indiana police officer was critically wounded and a man was injured in a shootout following a traffic stop and search for possible narcotics, authorities said. Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton responded to a call about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday from other officers to assist with the stop involving a […]
5 hours ago
People wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus walk through a market in New Delhi, In...
Associated Press

Mask mandates return in New Delhi as COVID-19 cases rise

NEW DELHI (AP) — The Indian capital reintroduced public mask mandates on Thursday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. The New Delhi government reinstituted a fine of 500 rupees ($6) for anyone caught not wearing a mask or face covering in public. India’s Health Ministry said 16,299 new cases were recorded in […]
5 hours ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Nurses ratify new contract, end nearly 10-month strike