Hundreds of Saint Vincent Hospital nurses and their supporters rallied in Worcester hours ahead of a planned strike amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the hospital says it's ready to bring in replacement nurses when the union nurses start picketing Monday morning. The 800 nurses plan to start the strike at 6 a.m. Monday, and neither side was budging for an 11th hour deal on Sunday evening as the nurses gathered across the street from the hospital. Nurse Marlena Pellegrino, co-chair of the bargaining unit, at the rally said they're prepared to "take the ultimate step" against Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare. "This was not an easy decision for us, but Tenet has forced this upon us through their total disregard for patient care, their total disrespect for nurses and all of the frontline staff who have been sacrificing our lives, our families' lives, to keep you safe before and during the worst public health crisis in the history of our city, state and nation," she said to hundreds of nurses and community and labor supporters.
St. Vincent Hospital on Sunday said the Worcester hospital has hired more than 100 permanent replacement nurses who are "stepping into roles vacated by nurses on strike." This comes less than a week after the hospital said it had presented the Massachusetts Nurses Association with its "last, best and final offer." The nurses' strike has now hit five months, as the Massachusetts Nurses Association says the offer from the hospital last week was a "disappointing proposal" and an "unsatisfactory ultimatum." St. Vincent Hospital on Sunday said the more than 100 permanent replacement nurses will be joined by additional nurses in the coming weeks. "These nurses are stepping into roles vacated by nurses on strike with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and are providing excellent care for patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the hospital said in a statement.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Union members protesting the Veterans Affairs decision to eliminate hazard pay during the COVID-19 pandemic gathered outside James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa this week. The Florida demonstration was one of more than 200 National Nurses United protests across the country demanding better protection for veterans and nursing staff at VA facilities amid a reported shortage of personal protective equipment. "These recent COVID surges and uncontrolled infections and deaths, the failure of employers to protect our nurses and other workers, the outrageously high rates of unemployment and hunger, the totalitarian crackdown on protesters -- every crisis we are seeing now can be traced back to our failure to value human lives over profit," National Nurses United Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement.
St. Vincent Hospital nurses and the hospital management team will start talking again on Monday, returning to the bargaining table for the first round of negotiations since the Worcester nurses launched their strike eight weeks ago. The 800 nurses have been on strike since March 8 as they continue to battle Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare over better staffing measures. A federal mediator scheduled the new round of negotiations as Tenet plans to present an "adjustment" to its most recent proposal, Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson said Sunday. "It would be great if they agree to what we put on the table," Jackson said of the nurses who are with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. If the nurses don't say yes to the adjustments, then Jackson hopes they would present a "solid counterproposal" so the two sides can quickly reach a deal.
Saint Vincent Hospital on Thursday said it presented its "final offer" to the striking nurses at the Worcester hospital as the standoff hit 150 days without a deal. The final offer to the Massachusetts Nurses Association comes after the hospital this week slashed services amid the protracted strike. The hospital's CEO said the proposal addresses nurse staffing, compensation and workplace safety. "Our last, best and final offer remains generous across wages and benefits, and includes extensive investments in nurse staffing, building upon the hospital's'very high' nurse staffing rating by U.S. News & World Report," Carolyn Jackson, Saint Vincent Hospital CEO, said in a statement. "Over 200 nurses have crossed the picket line to care for patients, and we continue to welcome additional nurses each day," she added.