MNA Continues to Contest Reasonable Return to Work Stipulations for Members, Further Prolonging Strike

Aug 24, 2021

Hospital commits to welcoming back all striking MNA nurses, but even this is rejected, after the parties reach a resolution on staffing

Worcester, MA – August 24, 2021 – Saint Vincent Hospital is seeking to clarify the false narrative created by the MNA regarding discussions over how to deal with the striking nurses whose positions have been taken by the permanent replacement nurses who bravely joined the hospital during the course of the strike. These permanent replacement nurses are a combination of MNA represented nurses who decided to care for patients during the strike due to their oath and calling to care for our community, along with nurses who joined Saint Vincent Hospital during the strike to serve the greater Worcester community. The hospital was forced to make the decision to hire permanent replacement nurses due to the prolonged strike. Saint Vincent made this difficult decision very public, but the MNA bargaining committee chose to ignore the decision and the risks it posed to the jobs previously held by the striking nurses. Contrary to statements from the union, in hiring permanent replacement nurses, the hospital has followed the law precisely, without bias or discrimination, for the sole purpose of ensuring the community maintained access to critical services.

Saint Vincent Hospital is committed to bringing this work stoppage to a close and returning to normal operations. The hospital, in an effort to resolve the MNA’s issue of permanent replacements, has offered several reasonable accommodations including:

  1. A guarantee that all striking nurses have a job if they want one, regardless of whether we are overstaffed based on capacity requirements. EVERY striking nurse has a position at Saint Vincent, if he or she wants one.
  2. Equally, the hospital will not force any nurse in a current role to lose his or her job. The hospital and community both need to support these nurses to ensure that high-quality care remains a priority for the community.
  3. The hospital’s analysis indicates approximately 85% to 90% of returning nurses will return to their exact roles, but that number is decreasing daily. As of today, the Hospital has hired 140 permanent replacement nurses, up from 126 only one week ago.
  4. Saint Vincent has stated its willingness to offer priority bidding, severance and an openness to other ways to assist the nurses whose exact job is no longer available.
  5. The newly hired nurses are doing great work for our patients, and we will not allow them to be attacked either. This past week, the MNA once again attempted to falsely damage the hospital by insulting these nurses as having no experience and creating a safety problem, using Obstetrics as an example. Our Obstetrics nurses are excellent, and contrary to MNA’s claims, those nurses currently working in that department have 11 years on average of experience. We are proud to say that our moms and babies have been very happy and healthy.

We again appeal to the MNA to end its strike, accept the Hospital’s offer, and accept the reality that the Hospital will not involuntarily displace its permanent replacement nurses. Saint Vincent temporarily paused on hiring permanent replacement nurses last week out of respect for the bargaining process, but hiring has restarted and will continue at a rapid pace. In fact, in the last week alone, 15 SVH nurses have newly crossed the picket line or will be crossing soon, 15 nurses have accepted offers for permanent replacement positions, and we are awaiting responses from 10 additional permanent replacement nurses who have been extended offers.

Time is of the essence, as more nurses are crossing the picket line each day to return to work at the hospital, and other external nurses are applying for posted permanent roles. The importance of ensuring critical roles are filled is something the hospital cannot risk, and while we prefer to deal with this by completing the return to work effort, we will not risk safety and quality to our community. The total number of Saint Vincent employed nurses now working or soon to begin work currently exceeds 270 nurses and is growing every day. That means well over 30% of the bargaining unit has already in essence voted to endorse the end of the strike and acceptance of the last, best and final offer. We have put forward a very generous wage, benefit and staffing package. Essentially, the best any Massachusetts hospital has offered in the last two years.

This strike, which has put the healthcare access of the Central Massachusetts community potentially at risk, was conducted on a false premise. Saint Vincent has excellent quality, safety and staffing, and this has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by independent third parties. We will not perpetuate this injustice further by forcibly removing the nurses who stepped up to care for this community, and we will happily attempt to resolve this by working with each individual striking nurse who might not have their exact prior role. Each will be treated with care and respect, one by one, as long as the MNA allows the rest of the nurses whose jobs and exact roles are available to come back to work now.

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