Nurses To Strike At Tufts Medical Center

In a new letter addressed to Tufts Ceo Michael Wagner, the hospital nurse’s labor union—which represents 1,200 registered nurses—is issuing a 10-day notice to management of a pending one-day strike.

The letter says that RNs will “engage in a strike and picketing” on the morning of July 12 in order to shed light on demands they need met.

OR nurse and bargaining unit co-chair Havlicek Cornacchia explains, “We do not want to strike, but management has left us with no other choice. They won’t hear us. They don’t believe us when we say that the contract improvements we are fighting for are necessary in order to keep patients safe, and in order to keep Tufts Medical Center competitive in a city full of top-notch hospitals. We want to be inside on July 12 caring for our patients, but if striking is the only way to get management to hear us and to take our issues seriously then we will be on the streets instead.”

The nurse’s union has requested to address these issues, among others:
• improved staffing
• safer patient assignments
• more IV nurses and more clinical resource nurses
• additional charge nurses (essentially, a “shift supervisor”) who do not have patient assignments during shift changeover, in all units
• wage improvements that will make the hospital more competitive in the market (to improve nurse recruitment)
• pension protections and/or improvements, also designed to make the hospital more competitive

Conacchia goes on to say, “We have offered a variety of proposals — and amended proposals, and doubly amended proposals — that would address staffing, But management’s responses have been so inadequate that they don’t get to the heart of the problem. They insist on offering us staffing proposals that are disjointed and superficial. What we need from them is simple: more full-time RNs and specialty nurses, and charge nurses without an initial patient assignment. That’s what will keep our patients safe.”

In terms of market competition, Union co-chair Barbara Tiller comments that the hospital has some of the worst staffing conditions in Boston. She notes that the hospital’s proposals have not done enough to address the issues. She comments, that “without market competitive wages and benefits [and] Tufts cannot recruit and retaint the nurses it needs, and the staffing problem spirals downward.”