Nurses vote to end 10-month strike at Tenet Healthcare's St. Vincent Hospital

Nurses at Tenet Healthcare-owned St. Vincent Hospital in Massachusetts voted Monday to end a 301-day strike over staffing assignments, workplace safety and pay, according to an announcement from the Massachusetts Nursing Association.

Since March 8, hundreds of nurses had participated in what would become the longest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts history, as well as the nation’s longest nurses’ strike in more than 15 years.

The nurses voted 487–9 on Monday in favor of ratifying a new contract that Marlena Pellegrino, a nurse at the hospital and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nursing Association (MNA), described as “an enormous victory for our patients and our members.”

St. Vincent Hospital said in a statement that it expects to have all returning nurses back at work by Jan. 22.

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”I stand here tonight humbled beyond words by our journey and we are overjoyed to report that our members have cast an overwhelming yes vote to ratify an agreement that officially ends the historic St. Vincent Nurses Strike,” Pellegrino said in a statement. 

“For nearly 10 months our nurses have walked the line for safer patient care, for the honor of our profession and for the right of all workers who make the difficult decision to engage in a lawful strike to return to their original positions. As we stand here tonight we can proudly say we have achieved our goals,” she said.

The new contract between nurses and the hospital is the result of more than 43 negotiating sessions culminating in a sit-down mediated by U.S. Secretary of Labor and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, according to the MNA.

Local and state policymakers had frequently called on both parties to find a resolution throughout the lengthy dispute, which coincided with widespread healthcare labor shortages and COVID-19 strain.

The union also did not have the full support of all of St. Vincent's nurses.

On Tuesday the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced that it had begun supporting a decertification petition filed in late December by a St. Vincent nurse that was signed by "hundreds" of his coworkers.

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Per the labor group’s announcement, the new contract, if ratified, will run through 2025 and include two years of retroactive pay.

Other highlights of the agreement include “assault pay” and other new protections against workplace violence against nurses, lower staffing limits across “the majority” of St. Vincent’s patient units, lower-cost insurance benefits for part-time nurses and an annual 2% across-the-board wage increase.

The parties’ final bargaining session saw agreements guaranteeing that all demonstrators would be able to return to their original positions, hours and shifts, according to MNA.

With its nurses returning, the hospital said it is “eager” to resume multiple service lines that were temporarily closed during the strike.