By Linda Hilson –
As the MNA strike at Saint Vincent Hospital continues into six months, Shelly Weiss Friedberg the Director of Public Relations for Tenet Healthcare released the following statement Thursday night.
“Please accept this statement on behalf of Saint Vincent Hospital for any stories you may be working on. It can be attributed to me as a spokesperson for the hospital. PpWe agree with the MNA that it is time to end this strike and return Saint Vincent Hospital to normal operations, serving our community with the pride, service and quality that has been its hallmark. The MNA has demanded that all the striking nurses have the right to return to their pre-strike roles from 6 months ago. While we agree with the MNA that in many strike situations, strikers do return to previous positions, that is typical in strikes that last from a few days to a few weeks at most. In this case, the strike has gone on for almost 6 months on the premise, despite the facts, that staffing was inadequate, and safety was a major issue. These issues have been proven inaccurate, and due to this continued work stoppage, Saint Vincent Hospital was placed in a situation that necessitated hiring permanent replacement nurses for certain roles. This was discussed openly and publicly stated to the MNA, but unfortunately, the MNA chose to ignore the plea to settle and avoid this situation. The hospital took these steps to protect critical services for Worcester and the surrounding community and to ensure the safety and availability of critical services without disruption. The MNA has now demanded we forcibly remove some of these individuals from their current jobs, many of whom are MNA members who bravely chose to follow their oath, cross the picket line, and have been critical to supporting access to care, especially during a pandemic. Others nurses we have hired are members of our community, neighbors to many of our citizens, and they joined Saint Vincent Hospital with an interest in helping keep critical services open. In all cases, they have been at the front line of care for the community. In order to reduce concerns about availability of jobs, Saint Vincent Hospital informed the MNA that it would guarantee that every striking nurse, without exception, who wants to return to a job, will have one available for them if they choose to take it. As to returning to a specific role or shift, our current estimate, without the benefit of specific names of returning nurses, which the MNA has refused to provide to the hospital, is that about 85% who return will get their exact job and shift back. For the remaining 15%, we have committed to work with the MNA to try and resolve these situations once a return to work agreement is in place. Our request to the MNA is simple. Let us not waste time about this last issue, but rather show the community we can resolve this by agreeing to a process to address the estimated 15% of striking nurses whose pre-strike roles may no longer be available. If we succeed, the community will benefit.”