Why is MNA Leadership Ignoring Nurses' Salaries?

Mar 22, 2021

A Look at Nurse Salaries at Saint Vincent and Benefits of its Proposal

Worcester, MA – March 22, 2021 – At Saint Vincent Hospital the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) bargaining committee members are already among the highest paid nurses at the hospital. Of the 19 full time and part time members of the MNA bargaining committee, 16 are already in the top three steps of the wage scale, which means they receive the highest hourly pay rates. In fact, the bargaining committee members’ average hourly rate is $59.69 and their average annual salary equivalent is $124,000, which is significantly higher than what others receive.

The MNA bargaining committee should be more concerned with the need to increase wages for earlier tenured nurses to improve recruitment and retention, which is what the hospital’s generous proposal aims to address. Improving wages in the less tenured steps will help Saint Vincent Hospital recruit more new, full-time nurses, and alleviate some of the pressures faced from the COVID crisis seen all around the country. That, in turn, helps us continue staffing safely as the hospital has proven it does. That is what our nurses deserve, and it should take priority versus attempts to drive an agenda not based on facts.

The hospital’s nurse salary structure has 21 steps. While over 325 of the nurses are in the top step with an hourly rate of approximately $64, many of the less tenured nurses also deserve more compensation. The hospital’s proposal aims to increase the competitiveness of the wages by offering increases of 30% to 36% for all but the top five steps in the wage scale. In addition, because of the hospital’s strong belief in the importance of more experienced nurses’ role in delivering outstanding patient care and mentoring the younger nurses, we also proposed increasing wages for nurses in the top five steps by 9% to 25%.

Saint Vincent Proposal As of Jan 1, 2021 As of Jul 1, 2024
Level of Experience (Example) Hourly Rate Annual Salary Equivalent Hourly Rate Annual Salary Equivalent Increase
Early (Step 1) $31.13 $64,750 $40.47 $84,168 30.0%
Mid (Step 7) $38.28 $79,622 $49.73 $103,442 29.9%
Experienced (Step 15) $50.50 $105,040 $68.81 $143,117 36.2%
Top Step (Step 21) $64.19 $133,515 $70.18 $145,976 9.3%

 

It is important that Saint Vincent Hospital nurses and the community recognize that the MNA bargaining committee has appeared to basically ignore the generous compensation proposal because, at the top tier, they already receive competitive wages. They are not interested in discussing staffing strategies at Saint Vincent, rather their agenda focuses on using Saint Vincent Hospital, and the community it serves so well as pawns in a broader agenda to overturn the failed 2018 statewide ballot initiative about nurse staffing ratios. Instead of prioritizing the financial stability of its members and their families, the MNA leadership has refused to engage in a solution and chose to initiate a strike. The strike, which is baseless in terms of proposed wages, false accusations of patient safety concerns, and incorrect information about our nurse staffing ratios – all of which real data have proven in the hospital’s favor – will ultimately reduce what is financially available for a new contract.

The attacks by the MNA on our hospital’s parent corporation, which has been instrumental in bringing resources and best practices to the community in Worcester during the pandemic by using its national scale, are nothing more than desperate attempts by the MNA leadership to avoid the real facts about this negotiation. The vast majority of hospitals in Massachusetts are members of larger health systems. Many of our community members in Worcester value their union representation, and we respect that. The majority of those union members also work with employers who have investors, just like we do. Our respect for the special work nurses did for our community in 2020 is represented in the most generous proposal the hospital has made in well over a decade. Our ability to reach a quick, and collaborative solution with UFCW is evidence of a productive relationship between the hospital and its unions. Neither side got everything it desired in that negotiation, but both sides collaborated to improve the outcome for our hospital and our community. We hope the MNA leadership can recognize the opportunity to solve all the issues together and stop the focus on overturning a failed ballot initiative position on mandated staffing ratios to allow us to welcome all our nurses back into Saint Vincent Hospital.

“The salary component of our last offer to the MNA took into account feedback from our nurses and is very generous to ensure we are able to continue to attract and retain high quality nurses,” said Saint Vincent CEO Carolyn Jackson. “It is difficult to understand why the MNA leadership did not seriously consider a proposal that would benefit all nurses from the earliest tenured to those in the top step.”

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