Hundreds of nurses represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) went on strike Monday in Worcester, Mass. after talks broke down with hospital owners Tenet Healthcare over staffing levels.
Video of the protest showed hundreds gathered in the cold weather outside St. Vincent Hospital, with those attending citing unsafe staffing levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m here because there’s unsafe staffing going [on] in my hospital right now,” Heather Arnold, one of the attendees, said in a video interview posted by the MNA.
Heather Arnold, emergency department nurse, on why St. Vincent Hospital nurses began an open-ended strike today. Patient safety over corporate profits!
Learn more and support nurses: https://t.co/LboZXtOv6p. pic.twitter.com/v81Xr1TF2a
MNA (@MassNurses) March 8, 2021
Amazing display of solitary among the people of Worcester and the St. Vincent nurses as they start their strike today. pic.twitter.com/Y0XK7zK9Qy
Worcester DSA (@WorcDSA) March 8, 2021
A co-chair of the MNA’s bargaining committee told The Associated Press that the union was “sad to see that Tenet holds so little value for our patients, yet we are resolved to do whatever it takes for as long as it take to protect our patients, as it is safer to strike now than allow Tenet to continue endangering our patients every day on every shift.”
Negotiations over staffing levels and pay for nurses at the hospital have reportedly been ongoing for two years.
In a statement, St. Vincent’s Hospital said that replacement nurses were on site caring for patients, and added that they hoped to reach a new contract with MNA soon.
Quality is the cornerstone of everything we do here at Saint Vincent, and our community can be assured that we have taken the appropriate steps to ensure we will be able to remain focused on providing exceptional, safe, quality care to our patients despite the strike action being taken by the MNA, said hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson.
While we still remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the MNA for a new contract that is fair and beneficial to both parties, we wont let anything distract us from our primary mission of doing what is best for our patients.”