The longest nurse strike in the history of Massachusetts is over.
Hundreds of unionized nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, who have been on strike for nearly 10 months, voted 487-9 to ratify a new contract and head back to work, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said Monday night.
A tentative agreement between about 700 nurses at the hospital Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, the hospital's owner, was announced on Dec. 17 after an all-day bargaining session.
"For nearly 10 months, our nurses have walked the line for safer patient care, for the honor of our profession and for the right of all workers who make the difficult decision to engage in a lawful strike to return to their original positions," Marlena Pellegrino, a 35-year nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital and a leader with the Massachusetts Nurses Association's local bargaining unit, said in a statement. "As we stand here tonight we can proudly say we have achieved our goals."
All returning nurses are expected to be back at work by Jan. 22, Saint Vincent Hospital said.
"We are pleased that our nurses decided to bring the strike to an end by voting to ratify this contract. We are ready to welcome back every nurse who chooses to return to Saint Vincent, and we have plans in place to make that process as smooth as possible," the hospital said in a statement. "We are also eager to restore access to temporarily closed services so that we can better serve the needs of our community."
Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., praised the vote to end the strike.
"Tonight's vote is an historic victory for the heroic nurses at St. Vincent who refused to budge until they secured the protections and staffing conditions their patients deserve," Trahan said in a statement. "They wanted nothing more than to return to work for months, and they risked their livelihoods on the picket line each day to achieve that goal."
The strike that started March 8 is the longest nurses strike in state history, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association.
The deal includes staffing improvements, pay and health insurance boosts, and gives striking nurses the right to return to their old jobs.