Talks broke down between Tufts Medical Center and the Massachusetts Nurses Association Tuesday night, prompting 1,200 nurses to strike Wednesday morning.
Both sides have met more than 30 times since April last year, including a meeting with a federal mediator on Tuesday, but they could not come to an agreement. “We came to the table today hoping to reach an agreement, but Tufts management is determined to force a strike and a subsequent lockout of our nurses,” said Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, a representative of the nursing unit. Tufts Medical Center spokeswoman Brooke Hynes had a different perspective: “The union had a choice to support patient care and they chose to strike… They came to the table today with a recycled plan that is costly to the medical center and risky to our nurses.”
The main sticking point? Retirement benefits. Tufts is looking to move pensions into a defined-contribution plan that would be less expensive to maintain, but the union is looking to keep pension plans. The union reported that they proposed a plan that would save the hospital money by joining a multi-employer pension plan, but no agreement was reached. In addition to retirement, the two sides disagree on nurse wages and staffing levels.
Tufts plans to bring on 320 replacement nurses for the strike, and hopes to operate as usual. The nurses’ union plans to demonstrate for 24 hours and hold rallies throughout the day. The union originally planned a one-day walkout, but the hospital says they will lock the nurses out for four additional days using replacement workers.
For more information on nursing strikes, check out the following Strategies for Nurse Managers Reading Room articles:
Ask the Experts: Nurses strikes
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