by Jay Verchin
ISG members in Worcester, MA, have supported the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) throughout the 10-month long strike against Tenet Healthcare, the corporation that owns St. Vincent Hospital. It was the longest nurses’ strike in state history. On March 8th, 2021, 800 nurses with the MNA walked out of the hospital. The nurses demanded sufficient protective equipment, fair pay, and above all, safe staffing levels in the hospital to ensure patient safety.
We worked with MNA nurses during the 2018 statewide safe staffing ballot initiative. We joined the pre-strike informational picketing at St. Vincent that started December 2020. When the strike was called, we organized an online meeting, bringing out 80 community members and nurses in support and raising over $200 for the strike fund. We co-sponsored several solidarity events and publicized and attended car caravans and numerous rallies. ISG members organized solidarity statements from their unions. Our articles put forward a working class analysis of the struggle to counter corporate propaganda. ISG members visited the picket line nearly every week, offering support and ideas that could escalate and win the strike.
Unfortunately, the leaderships of the Teamsters and UFCW continued to tell their members to work inside the hospital during the strike. ISG consistently pointed out that the unions at St. Vincent need to strike together to improve their contracts and working conditions.
Tenet prolonged the strike by attempting to stop over 100 nurses from returning to their jobs. This targeted many veteran nurses and strike leaders. The nurses continued striking until all nurses were guaranteed a return to their old jobs. On January 3rd, MNA nurses voted 487 to 9 in favor of an agreement with Tenet, winning staffing improvements in the majority of units, guaranteed right to return to the same positions, and increases in pay and benefits.
The MNA stated that more improvements are needed in safe staffing, and Tenet will go on the offensive again, but the nurses have proven they can fight and win! ISG will stand behind St. Vincent MNA nurses as they continue their struggle at St. Vincent and the broader fight against corporate healthcare!