We, as DSA members in Boston, Worcester and throughout Massachusetts, are outraged by St. Vincent Hospital’s complete disregard for the welfare of patients and nurses alike, but we are inspired by the resilience and courage of the MNA nurses. After years of being pushed to the brink and having their calls for better working conditions go unheeded, the 800 nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester authorized a strike starting on March 8. We are asking the public in Worcester and beyond to join us in standing in solidarity with the St. Vincent nurses in their fight for a fair union contract and safe working conditions.
St. Vincent’s nurses have made their safety concerns known to management and have been bargaining for a new contract. However, the hospital, owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, has refused to bargain in good faith. Nurses have cried out about patient bedsores, preventable falls and injuries, and even preventable deaths all related to a crisis in proper staffing. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has been asking for a reasonable 1:4 patient ratio, but Tenet has refused, forcing nurses to care for a dangerously high number of patients. Further, despite receiving money from the CARES Act in 2020, Tenet has furloughed support staff, causing nurses to take on an even greater workload. The hospital routinely sends nurses home during the middle of their shifts when patient census gets low, further perpetuating the staffing crisis. All this is happening despite Tenet announcing 2020 profits of over $400 million. There is no excuse for understaffing and putting staff on furlough.
This type of corporate greed is indefensible, and even more reprehensible in the midst of a global pandemic. The hypocrisy could not be more clear: hospital executives claim that nurses are “heroic” and “essential” while treating them as expendable. Tenet’s actions put not only the lives of its nurses at risk, but also its patients and our community as a whole. Tenet must immediately meet the safety concerns and demands of MNA, who are in the best position to understand the needs of the nurses and their patients.
St. Vincent nurses are not just fighting to achieve better working conditions for themselves but are trying to improve the very nature of care itself. Our community cannot feel safe going to a hospital where management decides to pocket profit and government money instead of hiring nurses and support staff to expand its capacity in a pandemic.
The MNA has a strong history of fighting for its nurses and our communities. In 2018, the MNA ran a state-wide ballot campaign for the Patient Safety Act, which would have increased patient and nurse safety by requiring hospitals to set reasonable nurse-to-patient ratios. The MNA has also boldly endorsed Medicare For All, understanding that the unacceptable conditions at St. Vincent are part of a larger systemic issue with the for-profit healthcare industry.
This is why DSA chapters across Massachusetts are mobilizing our members to support the St. Vincent nurses on the picket line and we encourage all who care about safe and accessible healthcare and workers rights to join as well.
Ways to support the St. Vincent Nurses Strike:
- The Pre-Strike Rally is on Sunday, March 7 at 4:30 p.m. at 11 East Central Street in Worcester. Sign up with this form to let us know you can come.
- The strike picket begins at 6:00 a.m. on March 8th and goes until midnight everyday until Tenet meets the demands of its nurses.
- Please also consider donating to the strike fund through Paypal or Venmo.
Follow updates on the MNA website and on Twitter (@MassNurses) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/massnurses).