Worcester Independent Socialist Group continues to stand with the union nurses on strike at St. Vincent Hospital. The strike of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) nurses at St. Vincent is now the longest in Massachusetts history. We joined the MNA nurses on strike, other unions, activists, and community members on the picket line for the “Worcester Solidarity Day”, on Saturday, September 25th.
The St. Vincent strike is now national news. The tenacious and determined struggle of the nurses for better working conditions and improved patient care is necessary and inspiring. The “nurse shortage” around the U.S. is, in reality, the result of hospital corporations like Tenet Corporation putting profit over patients, chronically under-staffing hospitals, cutting healthcare services both before and during the pandemic, and exploiting and burning out overworked nurses until many are forced to look for non-hospital work or leave the field.
Nurses at St. Vincent walked out in March 2021 over Tenet Corporation’s refusal to agree to a contract that would address urgent staffing, pay, and healthcare issues. In August, the nurses union and the corporation reached a tentative agreement when management suddenly refused to allow over 100 of the most experienced nurses to return to their jobs.
Tenet tried to fill 100 permanent replacement positions this summer in order to break the strike and claims to have “replaced” over 100 nurses on strike. Tenet has only been able to partially fill the positions with scab nurses, and many of those hired are new graduates with significantly less experience than the union nurses on strike. Veteran nurses with more experience are also higher on the pay scale, and Tenet is eager to slash wages by cutting their jobs. Many statements from managers (including some administrative doctors), corporate officers, and others opposing the strike are publicly pressuring nurses to go back to work. The bottom line is Tenet Corporation refuses to let the nurses return to their jobs.
Tenet is clearly retaliating against the nurses for the current strike. Many of the nurses who the corporation is refusing to rehire also led the strike back in 2001 which won an end to unfair overtime practices at St. Vincent.
Most of the so-called replacement jobs Tenet is stealing from the union nurses are in positions requiring a high level of training. Inexperienced nurses, scabbing on the strike, are leading to dangerous conditions for patients at St. Vincent. Nurses and other workers crossing the picket line weaken the rights of all nurses and healthcare workers in the fight for safety, better working conditions, and improved patient care.
Tenet is a prime example of out-of-control corporate greed. This attempt at union-busting needs to be fought with the resources of the entire labor movement. It’s not too late for unions to unite against the Tenet Corporation.
ISG Calls For:
- The United Food and Commercial Workers union and the Teamsters union at St. Vincent need to refuse to cross the picket line and join with the MNA in unified strike action to get a contract secured for the nurses, with all the strikers getting their jobs back if they want to return. Statewide, the MNA and other unions should coordinate solidarity job actions at other hospitals and healthcare-related corporations.
- Every union in New England needs to organize as many members as possible for mass meetings, rallies and pickets centered on St. Vincent and the Tenet Corporation. Union members can lead the way in organizing more working people and active community support for the strike in workplaces and neighborhoods.
If not now, when? After over 200 days, it’s clear business as usual in terms of strike strategy will not be enough to win. No union should be fighting alone against nationwide corporations like Tenet. St. Vincent workers and the labor movement have the power to win this strike!