Nearly 100 days into a nursing strike, elected leaders joined the picket line Saturday to show their support fir the staffers of St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern and others attended the solidarity rally in Worcester. It has been three months since nurses walked off the job, demanding higher staffing levels.
“We are here because we understand what this fight is about. We are here to send a message,” Warren told the crowd.
There have been talks between the two sides, but so far there is little indication that they are any closer to reaching an agreement.
“This is about patient safety. This is about quality health care. This is a fight that not only has implications in Worcester, but all across the country,” McGovern said.
The head of Tenet Healthcare, which owns the hospital, recently responded to the delegation in a letter.
“The staffing concessions that Saint Vincent has made in offers to the MNA represent some of the most generous staffing contract language in the nation… We stand by the staffing, quality and safety facts that we have shared with the public and with you throughout the negotiations,” Ron Rittenmeyer, the executive chariman and CEO of Tenet Healthcare, wrote.
“They ceased it. They put a stop to it and we were so surprised like that’s not what negotiating is about,” nurse Denise Scotia said.
The nurses claim the company continues to put profits over patients. They say they are undeterred by the fact that the hospital has started hiring permanent replacement workers.
“They’re not going to be able to break us at all. We will be here one day longer and one day stronger,” Marsha Holm, a nurse said.
The nurses said they will continue to be on the picket line every day until they get what they believe is a fair contract.
“We never imagined we would be out here for this long, but we are here. We will be here until we have an agreement to keep patients in our community safe,” said nurse Marlena Pellegrino.