Striking nurses to vote on whether to ratify new contract

January 2, 2022 GMT

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Hundreds of unionized nurses at a Massachusetts hospital who have been on strike for nearly 10 months are scheduled to vote Monday on whether to ratify a new contract and head back to work.

The tentative agreement between about 700 nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester and hospital owner Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare was announced on Dec. 17 after an all-day bargaining session mediated by U.S. Labor Secretary and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The strike that started March 8 is the longest nurses strike in state history, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

The sometimes bitter strike was originally over staffing levels, but later became about whether striking nurses would be able to return to their old jobs after the hospital started hiring replacements. The agreement includes staffing improvements and allows all nurses who went on strike the right to return to work in the same position, hours, and shift that they worked prior to the work stoppage.

The agreement also includes pay increases through 2025 and health insurance improvements.

The hospital’s chief executive has said that she is happy to end the strike and return the focus back to patient care.

Nurses can vote at the Teamsters Local 170 Meeting Hall in the city. Results are not expected until about 9:30 p.m.