Tufts Medical Center nurses ended their strike Thursday at 6:59 a.m. despite not coming to an agreement with hospital management.
More than 1,200 nurses participated in the 1-day strike in Boston over such issues as staffing levels, pension benefit improvement and salary increases.
One striking nurse said, "We don't have the resources that we need, the proper equipment, and we feel like we were just pushed to this.
More than 320 nurses were hired by Tufts to fill in on Wednesday but, while the strike is over, the temporary nurses are contracted for a minimum of five days. This puts the union nurses out of work until next week.
"The transition yesterday went very smoothly," Chief Nursing Officer Terry Hudson-Jinks said Thursday. "We have a very high standard of what we expect when we on-board nurses and what we've learned in this experience ... is that we test high."
In respect to the decision to strike, she said, "I would much rather our own nurses be here caring for our patients. But the MNA (Massachusetts Nurses Association) told them to leave their patients."
The union nurses held a rally after the strike ended, asking the hospital to let them back in, but Tufts management called the event a stunt. They said the nurses were aware of the five-day work contract for the temporary nurses.
"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," said Michael Wagner, president and CEO of Tufts.
The union said that Tufts needs to start putting its patients and staff first, claiming they are the lowest-paid nurses with the worst pensions in the city.
"I feel like we've been forced to this point," said one striking nurse. "We've tried everything that we could to try to get management to understand our side. I hope it's resolved in the next two minutes. I'm not hopeful that it will happen but I would really love for that to happen."
"It's shocking to me that the MNA didn't even look at our proposal before walking out," said a representative for the hospital.
Newton, Mass. mayor and gubernatorial hopeful Setti Warren issued a statement Thursday in support of the nurses.
"I stand in solidarity with the Tufts nurses. ... I hope that the management of Tufts Medical Center will end this lock out and sit back down with their nurses to come to a fair agreement."
The nurses are hoping for a resolution within the next few days. In the meantime, the strike has cost Tufts about $6 million.