Every Patient Deserves the Right Nurses!

July 12, 2017

Onyou Lee

The 1,200 registered nurses at Tufts Medical Center, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, attempted a historic 24-hour strike as the latest round of negotiations failed to achieve a fair settlement. The talk held on Monday, July 11th, ended unsuccessfully as the Tufts management failed to agree to a settlement that ensures patients have the highly skilled nursing care they deserve. The strike was symbolic since it was the first by nurses in Boston in 30 years and largest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts history. The strike began at 7 a.m. on Wednesday and continued until 6:59 a.m. on Thursday, July 13. 

Following the one day strike, the Tufts management has threatened to force a strike and a subsequent lock-out of the nurses. The hospital hired and brought in mercenary replacement nurses from all over the world during the planned 24-hour strike by Tufts nurses. This was an issue of concern for both the Tufts nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Association because the replacement nurses do not know Tufts patients, staff, the hospital or community nor are highly specialized like Tufts nurses. Replacement workers may endanger patient care.

“Instead of caring for our patients, the nurses of this hospital will be out on the strike line tomorrow to demonstrate our resolve and our commitment to fight for what is best for our patients and our professional practice,” said Barbara Tiller, union co-chair and an IV/PICC/CRN nurse. “We have been trying for months to convince Tufts management that our patients and nurses are suffering because they refuse to provide us with the resources, appropriate patient assignments, and the compensation we need to ensure quality patient care. We will be on the street tomorrow, Tufts nurses will not back down.”

Below are the key issues in disputes:

Key Issues in Dispute

The nurses’ key issues in these talks continue to be:

  • The need for improved nurse staffing with safer patient assignments for nurses throughout the hospital
  • The need for more IV nurses and clinical resource nurses
  • The need to have charge nurses who are free of patient assignments at the start of all shifts, in all units. A charge nurse is an RN who is responsible for managing all aspects of nursing responsibilities during each shift, from processing patients in and out to delegating nursing rounds. Being free of an initial patient assignment will allow Tufts’ charge nurses to provide desperately needed support to patients and nurses at the busiest time (i.e., change of shift)
  • The need for wage improvements that will make the hospital market competitive, thereby improving nurse recruitment and retention
  • The need for pension protections/improvements that will make the hospital market competitive