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February 24, 2021

Saint Vincent nurses move closer to strike

Photo | Grant Welker Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester

Unionized nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital have moved a step closer to walking off the job, giving the Worcester hospital a required 10-day notice of an intent to strike starting March 8.

The notice was given late Tuesday, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association, coming as the two sides have been locked in negotiations, with workers picketing outside the hospital for better working conditions. The union has said the hospital has had a longstanding staffing and patient safety crisis.

Saint Vincent has said in a statement the nurses' union is trying to force patient staffing levels that have failed at the ballot box and are already better than most hospitals. The hospital has said it will remain fully operational in the event that nurses walk off the job.

"We believe a strike is irresponsible in the middle of an ongoing pandemic," the hospital said. "It is now very clear that the MNA’s agenda during our negotiations has been to use Saint Vincent Hospital, its own nurse members and the Worcester community as pawns to advance their previously failed ballot initiative on mandated staffing ratios rather than negotiate in good faith."

More than 800 registered nurses at Saint Vincent are part of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. The union initially voted to authorize a strike on Feb. 10. The Saint Vincent union last striked for 49 days in 2000 before landing its first union contract.

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