9-Month Nurses Strike May End at Massachusetts Hospital; About 700 Would Return to Work

A tentative agreement has been reached, with a vote scheduled for next month to end the nine-month strike of about 700 nurses at a hospital in Massachusetts, the nurses union announced Tuesday.

The 700 nurses started the work stoppage at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, March 8 over staffing issues, and eventually the strike became an issue of whether the nurses would be able to return to their old jobs after the hospital hired replacements.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association said the vote is scheduled for Jan. 3, and it will not release the terms of the agreement with Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare until the details are shared with and voted on by the nurses participating in the strike.

"This agreement, and the improvements it includes was hard fought, and represents a true victory, not only for the nurses, but more importantly, for our patients and our community, who will have access to better nursing care, which was why our members walked that strike line for the last nine months through four seasons," Marlena Pellegrino, a St. Vincent nurse and co-chair of the bargaining unit, said in a statement.

St. Vincent said the striking nurses will be able to return to their old jobs, and those hired to replace them will stay on, as well.

Massachusetts, Nurse Strike, St. Vincent Hospital
A tentative agreement has been reached between St. Vincent Hospital and about 700 nurses who have been on strike since March. Above, registered nurses and supporters stand in a picket line and wave to cars as they drive by the hospital during winter in Worcester, Massachusetts. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The tentative agreement between the nurses and Tenet followed mediation by U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a former Boston mayor and labor leader.

The strike, according to the union, is the longest nurses strike in state history.

"We are glad to finally end the strike and put our sole focus back on patient care," Carolyn Jackson, the hospital's chief executive, said Friday.

The union is now mailing the full agreement to all nurses for their review and will be holding in-person and online meetings over the next several days to ensure that members are informed about all aspects of the deal.

Meanwhile, the nurses have agreed to suspend picketing outside the hospital "as a show of good faith," the union said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.