MNA Myth vs. Fact

MNA Claims about Saint Vincent Hospital and the Truth

Throughout negotiations between Saint Vincent Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the MNA has consistently based its contract proposals and public positions on key arguments that have serious factual discrepancies. We want to set the record straight on the circumstances surrounding the MNA’s decision to walk out on patients beginning Monday, March 8.

MNA Myth Fact

Staffing

Hospital nurse staffing is dangerously unsafe.

Nurse staffing levels at Saint Vincent are above the norm. The guidelines in our current MNA contract are better than most other hospitals in Massachusetts.

Patient to nurse ratios are better at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

UMass staffs a mix of 4:1 and 5:1, just like Saint Vincent. Their MNA contract does not contain staffing guidelines, while Saint Vincent’s does.

"This whole debate has been about one issue – the need to increase staffing to stop harming patients.” – MNA communications director, Telegram & Gazette, March 3.

There are still over a dozen non-staffing items that the MNA continues to ask for changes to. They have also suggested the wage increases in the Hospital’s most recent proposal are not sufficient, so it is definitely not just about one issue for them. The Hospital’s comprehensive proposal addresses wage increases, benefits, ER security and staffing. The result would help attract and retain nurses to continue to ensure staffing to the current generous contract language.

More restrictive staffing ratios will improve patient care.

There is no valid research that concludes that staffing ratios improve patient outcomes. Numerous professional medical groups, including other nursing organizations, agree that healthcare decisions are best made by healthcare professionals and nurses at the bedside, not by a union contract. Rigid staffing ratios would dramatically increase emergency room wait times, decrease access to care and delay other lifesaving services.

The public is in favor of additional staffing ratios.

The MNA has been waging a years-long – and unsuccessful -- campaign for statewide staffing ratios. Their proposal has failed in the Legislature over almost 20 years, and their 2018 statewide ballot question to impose ratios in every Massachusetts hospital was defeated 70-30 percent by voters.

Safety

More than 100 nurses have left due to dangerous staffing practices and for better staffing and pay and benefits at other hospitals in the region.

100 nurses did leave SVH in 2020, but about 50% left due to retirement, moving, or leaving the workforce altogether; the other 50% left for other facilities citing pay and benefits, which the Hospital is trying to address with its offer. More recently numerous nurses have left Saint Vincent with nurse to nurse bullying and the toxic culture within the MNA as their reason for leaving.

In the last year alone, nurses have filed more than 500 official “unsafe staffing reports.”

These filings are a union-driven bargaining tactic that the union has used across the state whenever a contract is up for renewal or a vote. Upon closer review, here are the statistics on unsafe staffing reports that were filed:

2020 Unsafe Staffing Forms:

  • 355 were filed (others were duplicates)
  • 62 of them were filed by members of the bargaining committee
  • 11 had valid nurse staffing issues when compared to contract guidelines

2021 Unsafe Staffing Forms:

  • 37 were filed
  • 12 of them were filed by members of the bargaining committee
  • 2 had valid nurse staffing issues when compared to contract guidelines

If nurses were truly concerned about patient safety, they would file a complaint with the Department of Public Health, not with their union.

Support for a Strike

An “overwhelming” majority of 89 percent of nurses voted to strike. The union reported a tally of 497 yes and 62 no.

There were roughly 300 members, or 35%, of the MNA who did not vote.Their participation wouldlikely have decreased the percentage of those who voted yes considering the sentiment of some nurses who were not in favor and skipped the vote, and the bullying and harassment that have been directed towards those who oppose a strike.

There is strong public support for a strike.

A recent professional poll showed that 65 percent of respondents opposed a strike.

The public opposes the hospital’s offer.

The same poll showed that 62 percent considered the offer “generous,” given the current economic conditions.

Implications of a Strike

Nurses will gain a better contract if they strike.

In the event the Hospital expends resources on a strike, including strike replacement nurses, that change in circumstance may result in the Hospital reducing its offer.

Saint Vincent Hospital will not be able to operate if nurses strike.

The Hospital is prepared to have quality replacement nurses to continue operations and the Hospital will continue to provide safe care for our patients.