Boston Will See Its First Nursing Strike in 30 Years

Tufts Medical Center nurses say they'll strike on Wednesday.

Tufts Medical Center

Photo by Alex Lau

More than 1,000 Tufts Medical Center nurses won’t be working on Wednesday, as they carry out Boston’s first nursing strike in 30 years.

Last-ditch contract negotiations—revolving around nurses’ concerns over staffing, compensation, and retirement plans—failed on Tuesday, according to a release from the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), which represents 1,200 Tufts nurses.

“We came to the table today hoping to reach an agreement, but Tufts management is determined to force a strike and a subsequent lock out of our nurses,” Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, an OR nurse and the MNA’s bargaining unit co-chair, says in a statement. “This decision really shows administration’s lack of respect for its nurses and for the safety our patients [sic].”

The strike will begin at 7 a.m. on July 12 and continue until 6:59 a.m. on July 13. The labor stoppage may be longer, however, because Tufts has threatened to lock out nurses who do not cross the picket line on Wednesday for an additional four days, using temporary nurses in their absence.

The hospital and its nurses have been in negotiations since April of last year. Tuesday’s bargaining session, held in a federal mediator’s office, did not resolve the dispute, which has of late been mainly focused on pension versus retirement plans, despite hours of negotiations.

Tufts has repeatedly assured patients and the public that it will stay fully operational during the strike, a promise that CEO Michael Wagner reemphasized in a statement Wednesday morning.

“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,” he says. “But make no mistake, we will continue to provide exceptional patient care.”

As a result of the strike, the hospital has reportedly been forced to spend $6 million on additional security and temporary hires.

This story was updated to include a statement from Tufts Medical Center.