St. Vincent Nurses Win Key Health and Safety Improvements after Long Battle

February 11, 2022

January marked the end of the longest nurses strike in our state’s long history. After 301 days of picketing for safer patient care, St. Vincent Hospital nurses voted to ratify a new contract and clears the path for the hospital to begin recalling nurses to provide care to patients and fully reopen the hospital to address the Omicron surge. 

Under the new agreement, all nurses who went out on strike are guaranteed the right to return to work in the same position, hours, and shift that they worked prior to the strike. Another notable achievement are the improvements to be made to address workplace safety. Recognizing that nurses are subject to workplace violence on the job to the same degree as police officers and prison guards, the new contract language provides two nurses seats on the Hospital Workplace Safety Committee. The agreement also provides “assault pay” for a nurse who is assaulted on the job. Additionally, a nurse who uses sick or vacation pay as the result of a workplace assault will have such time restored to their sick/vacation time off bank.

MassCOSH has been very proud to twice stand with the St. Vincent workers on the picket lines during their strike. MassCOSH also invited the Massachusetts Nurses Association to speak about safe staffing levels as part of the state’s Future of Work Commission project. MassCOSH’s policy work at the State House has also stressed the need to create better conditions for nurses. This legislative session, we have pushed elected officials to support SD 1281/HD802 An Act Requiring Health Care Employers to Develop and Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence as well as SD 1218/HD 1893 An Act Providing for Safe Patient Handling to reduce musculoskeletal injuries in the healthcare industry.