WORCESTER - Tuesday, June 15, marked the 100th day since nurses of the Massachusetts Nursing Association [MNA] began a strike at St. Vincent Hospital, owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare.
Tenet presented an officer to nurses on April 1 that was rejected. Nurses launched the strike on March 8.
The two sides did not meet until intervention by a federal mediator brought them together on April 26. The two sides last met on May 5 after two offers from Tenet and a counter-offer from the MNA which the hospital called unreasonable.
Tenet ended negotiations the same week. Neither side has reported any meetings since early May. Tenet announced on May 12 that it would begin hiring permanent replacement nurses.
The primary source of the dispute is nursing staffing levels. MNA says that staffing levels at the hospital are too low and compromises patient safety. St. Vincent says its staffing levels are comparable with other hospitals in the state and that fixed staffing levels are arbitrary.
Labor disputes between Tenet and the MNA nurses at St. Vincent Hospital led to a work stoppage in 2001. Nurses credit Senator Edward Kennedy’s intervention in that strike ending after 49 days.
Nurses at Brockton Hospital launched a strike later that year that ended in late January 2002 after 103 days.
St. Vincent nurses have maintained a picket line since the strike launched on March 8. It is now the longest ongoing picket line in the United States.
According to the MNA, on Sunday the nurses strike will become the second longest work stoppage in the history of Massachusetts.