Nursing Strike Averted At Brigham And Women’s Hospital

BOSTON (CBS) — Brigham and Women’s Hospital nurses rejoiced early Sunday morning after marathon negotiations–lasting more than 15 hours–led to a tentative agreement with hospital management.

Now, there will be no nurses’ strike Monday, as the Massachusetts Nursing Association, which has been negotiating salaries, benefits and staffing levels for months, had threatened if the agreement could not be reached.

That strike would have been the largest in the state’s history, and the first such strike in the city in 30 years. The agreement was reached after 23 negotiating sessions.

“We are just so proud,” said Trish Powers, Nurses Union Chair. “I’m so happy for the 3,300 nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We are going to take back the Brigham, we are going to take back the Brigham way of excellent nursing care, and I am so thrilled for our patients, especially that we have avoided this strike, and that our patients can come back to the hospital.”

The agreement must still be ratified by the 3,300 nurses–but it’s clear union leadership is delighted with how things turned out.

“We never wanted this, I mean we didn’t want it for our patients,” said Nurses Union Vice Chair Kelly Morgan. “To be able to stand here proudly and say we have fought for this for our patients, for every nurse in that hospital, and for every nurse in the community and every patient in the community to get that excellent patient care … we set the bar against corporate greed.”

At one point during the long night of negotiation, some involved had to leave to feed their pets. But the nurses eventually streamed out of the negotiation site on Summer Street in Boston, smiling and triumphant.

“We have gotten our most important priority concerning language in our contract,” said Powers. “We got what we wanted on staffing.”

The Nurses’ Union said they believe this is a milestone agreement, and they hope it helps nurses at other hospitals as well. If accepted by the 3,300 nurses, it will be in effect for three years.

Sunday morning, the head of Brigham and Women’s Hospital issued a statement saying hospital management was “extremely pleased” to have reached the agreement with the nurses.

“This agreement would not have been reached without the tremendous commitment of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh,” wrote Brigham and Women’s Health Care President Dr. Betsy Nabel in the statement.

Dr. Nabel said the hospital is working to return to normal operations immediately.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karyn Regal reports

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