Tufts Medical Center Nurses Return to the Bargaining Table

For the first time since the strike, the hospital and its nurses are back in talks.

Tufts nurses strike

Nurses walk the picket line during the strike/Photo by Jamie Ducharme

UPDATED, September 1, 8:45 a.m.: After a full day of negotiations, Tufts and its nurses are still at an impasse. Moods seem to have improved since the strike, however, with Tufts describing the talks as “extensive, respectful, and open,” and the MNA calling them “open and civil.” Negotiations will resume on September 11.

Original story:

For the first time since its historic strike last month, Tufts Medical Center nurses and administrators will return to the bargaining table on Thursday.

With the aid of a federal meditator, the hospital and its nurses hope to reach compromise on a contract—a feat that proved unattainable over the 15 months leading up to the strike, prompting 1,200 Massachusetts Nurses Association members to walk out of the hospital on July 12. Tufts answered the 24-hour strike with a four-day lockout.

Throughout the controversy, nurses have called for safer staffing practices, competitive pay, and better benefits. Before the strike, benefits reportedly became the sticking point in negotiations. Tufts proposed moving 341 nurses from a defined-benefit pension plan to a 403(b) retirement plan, which nurses rejected. Meanwhile, MNA representatives called for all union nurses to be shifted to a multi-employer pension plan.

Tensions ran high during the strike and preceding bargaining sessions, but Tufts representatives, in a statement, said they’re committed to reaching a deal this time around. MNA representatives did not immediately supply a statement of their own.

“The past few weeks have been a time for our nurses and other members of the care team at Tufts Medical Center to reconnect and to focus as a team on what we do best—care for our patients and their families,” Tufts’ statement reads. “We look forward to productive discussions and reaching a fair contract for our nurses.”

Additional sessions with the federal mediator are scheduled for September 11 and September 13.

This story may be updated as it evolves.