Saint Vincent Hospital Implements Last, Best, and Final Offer in Negotiations with the MNA for a New ContractOct 15, 2021
Implementation of the hospital’s last offer with improved staffing, compensation and benefits, effectively eliminates the stated reason for the nurses strike
Worcester, MA – Oct. 15, 2021 – After numerous unsuccessful attempts to end a strike that has stretched beyond seven months, Saint Vincent Hospital has invoked its right under federal labor law to unilaterally implement the last, best, and final offer that it presented to the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) in early August.
The hospital provided official notification to the union earlier this week that it will be exercising its right to implement its last offer, which includes extensive investments in nurse staffing, added workplace safety measures, reduced out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and raises of up to 35 percent for some nurses. The terms of the last, best and final offer will officially be implemented on Sunday, October 17, and the 344 nurses currently working or soon to be working at SVH will begin working under these terms as of that date.
“The MNA called this strike over staffing. They made staffing allegations linked to false claims about patient safety concerns, which could never be proven with any facts. The MNA has accepted the staffing levels in the hospital’s final offer, and staffing is no longer an issue in negotiations. Instead, the union is holding up an agreement to return hundreds of nurses back to work over a small number of nurses who may have to return to jobs that are different from their exact pre-strike positions. We believe that nurses deserve the generous increases and staffing changes that are reflected in our final offer, and therefore we are exercising our right to implement these terms,” said Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson.
“Implementing our last, best, and final offer is excellent news for all current and future Saint Vincent nurses. But this also makes clear what we have been saying for months: it’s time for the MNA to call off the strike and allow its nurses to come back to work and take advantage of these very generous terms that will be in place on Sunday,” Jackson said.
The two sides came to agreement in August on all outstanding issues but one, as the union balked at the return to work agreement and insisted all its members return to the exact same shifts and assignments they held before the strike. The hospital has promised ALL the returning nurses would have jobs if they chose to take one, but a small percentage would not be able to return to their exact pre-strike positions because they are now held by permanent replacement nurses who were hired to maintain operational stability during the strike. The replacement nurses have performed admirably and cared for our community during this difficult pandemic. Many of them are actually MNA members who crossed the picket line, and the vast majority live in our communities as our neighbors. The hospital will not forcibly displace them.
The hospital has been hindered in its planning for the nurses’ return to work by the MNA’s refusal to provide information on striking members who have taken jobs elsewhere and a list of those who would like to return. In response to the most recent request by the hospital for this information, the MNA’s attorney claimed the union “has not conducted a survey, nor in any other manner developed any reliable data on who among the striking nurses will or will not wish to return to St. Vincent Hospital after the strike.” Yet the MNA’s spokesman and multiple members of the bargaining committee in numerous recent articles, as well as the union’s recent press release, have stated that most of the striking nurses have already found employment elsewhere and even named the hospitals where they are working.
The number of nurses who are returning could very likely be significantly lower than originally thought, so by not providing information that it clearly has, the MNA is once again needlessly prolonging the strike. This information is the last thing needed to settle the strike, so it is important that the MNA provides this to the hospital to pave the way for a smooth return to work. In addition to guaranteeing a job for every nurse who wants one, the hospital has committed that, with this information, it will work diligently with each potentially displaced returning nurse on a set of options to help resolve their personal situation as part of a return to work plan. The last, best and final offer will be in place shortly, and we encourage our nurses to come back to work to receive the enhancements in the new collective bargaining agreement.