The mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts, is calling on the parent company of Saint Vincent Hospital to bring an end to the ongoing nurse strike.
"Let me be clear, this strike needs to end, and it needs to end now," Mayor Joseph Petty said, joining the growing chorus of calls for the strike after nearly seven months.
The issue has put the community's hospital bed space at a critically low level during a health crisis.
"Because the local leadership of the hospital seem incapable of negotiating an equitable end to the strike, I'm hereby calling upon Dr. Saum Sutaria, the corporate head of Tenet Healthcare in Dallas, to come to Worcester as soon as possible to negotiate in good faith," Petty said.
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The mayor chastised Tenet Healthcare for its current return-to-work plan that would not guarantee nurses could return to their previous positions.
"These demands are unprecedented and violate the standard practice in any and all strikes and the high labor standards that we expect from all employers in our city," said Petty.
"There is nothing illegal or inappropriate about what we're doing," said Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson.
Jackson says senior executives from Tenet's home office in Dallas have already been at the bargaining table, and she says they are in agreement that they need to stand by the 205 permanent replacement nurses who have taken positions.
"The MNA is unwilling to discuss any creative alternatives, so it really doesn't matter who's on the other side of the bargaining table," Jackson argued. "If the MNA is unwilling to compromise, we're going to be at a standstill."
But striking nurses say prioritizing replacements over nurses who have spent years in specialized departments makes no sense.
"That you're going to honor months versus years is just, I don't know, that's just a tactic," said Sondra Thomas, a striking nurse in the cardiac step-down unit.
More on the nurse strike at Saint Vincent Hospital
"We have the beds here," said Kilsi Espinosa, another nurse on strike. "Just give us back our jobs and we'll help the community out."
Jackson would not comment on whether the corporate head of Tenet Healthcare would travel to Worcester, per the mayor's request.