BOSTON — More than 1,200 nurses at Tufts Medical Center went on strike after last-minute negotiations between the union that represents them and the Boston hospital were unsuccessful.
Representatives from the hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association spent hours negotiating Tuesday.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association represents 1, 200 RNs at Tufts, and in a release said this is the largest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts history and the first in Boston in more than 30 years.
“We came to the table (Tuesday) hoping to reach an agreement, but Tufts management is determined to force a strike and a subsequent lock out of our nurses,” said Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, an OR nurse and bargaining unit co-chair. “This decision really shows administration’s lack of respect for its nurses and for the safety our patients.”
The strike began at 7 a.m. Wednesday and will continue to 6:59 a.m. Thursday.
After the strike began, Tufts Medical Center CEO Dr. Michael Wagner says the facility will be open and will operate at normal capacity for the entire five-day work stoppage.
The hospital has locked-out the striking nurses for an additional four days and hired more than 300 temporary workers.
"It is extremely unfortunate that the union has continued to hold out for more money and an ill-conceived pension plan, and has made good on its threat to harm our great Medical Center. But make no mistake, we will continue to provide exceptional patient care," Wagner said in a statement.
The two have been negotiating a new contract since April 2016.
“We get gunshots, we get people falling from trees, getting hit by cars. We have to act in a moment’s notice. We don't have the staff,” OR nurse Eileen Agranat said.
The nurses are seeking more staffing so they can spend more time with patients, along with an increase in their salaries and enhancement of their pensions. The union says Tufts nurses have the lowest pay and the worst pension in the city.
“They send out blast texts on a daily basis, to try and fill holes. Or nurses have to stay over time. It's no longer acceptable,” RN Mary Havlicek Cormacchia said.
The union says the strike will begin at 7 a.m. July 12 and run until July 13. Hospital officials say they will lock out striking nurses for four more days and employ temporary workers - nurses will not be getting paid until they return to work Monday, July 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group