Citing hundreds of official reports of incidents that affect patient safety, 800 nurses at a Tenet Healthcare hospital in Worcester, Mass. have voted to authorize a strike.
The nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association say they are fed up with poor staffing levels during and prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
"With this vote, our members are sending a powerful message to Tenet Healthcare that we will do whatever it takes to protect our patients and our community in the face of their blatant disrespect and corporate greed," said Marlena Pellegrino, a frontline nurse at St. Vincent and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit. "We have tried for months to convince our administration and the Tenet corporation to provide us with the resources we need to keep the public safe, yet they only make things worse. While our goal is to avert a strike, should Tenet maintain its obstinance at the table, we will be compelled to take that step because our patients' lives are on the line."
The union is required to give 10-days notice of the strike and has not yet filed that action.
Nurses at 300-bed hospital that's part of the large for-profit chain say they have witnessed a "dramatic increase in patient falls, an increase in patient's suffering from preventable bed sores, dangerous delays in patients receiving needed medications and other treatments." They attribute this to inappropriate staffing levels and overwhelming patient assignments. A press release announcing the potential strike said more than 100 nurses have left "due to the untenable conditions and a punitive management culture."
St. Vincent CEO Carolyn Jackson said in a statement that the hospital leadership seeks to resolve negotiations amicably.
"We value our relationship with all our employees, and we are committed to resolving the contract negotiations," St. Vincent said in the statement. The nurses in May authorized a no-confidence vote in the hospital's leadership.
Union representatives say Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare has implemented furloughs and staffing cuts, while receiving nearly $3 billion dollars in taxpayer funded CARES Act funding. This week, the company announced $414 million in earnings.