BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Marty Walsh and other elected officials visited Tufts Medical Center nurses Saturday as the union and hospital remain at odds following a 24-hour strike.
After failed negotiations, members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) went on strike last week. When the nurses attempted to return to work, they were turned away because the hospital was forced to hire replacement nurses who agreed to a 5-day contract.
Saturday, Walsh met with nurses and asked them to continue negotiating with Tufts personnel.
“I’m asking for it to end. I’ve talked to the nurses today and I’m asking them to come back to the bargaining table,” said Walsh. “They said they’re more than willing to go back to the bargaining table. I’m asking the hospital now to come back to the bargaining table.”
Walsh said he has offered to facilitate a meeting between the two sides.
“What we need is not proposals going back and forth. We need a real negotiating session where it’s 24-48 hours right through,” said Walsh. “We have to make sure it’s fair and equitable for both sides. And I think you can do that. By negotiating you can get there.”
In a statement, Tufts Medical Center said Walsh plays a “vital role” at the hospital.
“The Mayor reached out to (Chief Dr. Michael Wagner) about his plans to come to the hospital today. The Mayor shared that he will express his desire for the parties to reach an agreement that benefits the nurses, the hospital and the city. The Mayor respects the vital role of Tufts Medical Center in the community and he and Dr. Wagner remain in regular contact.”
State Representative Denise Garlick was also at the rally Saturday and she brought a letter signed by 73 lawmakers and delivered it to the hospital CEO. The hospital rejected the letter because of the contract with the temporary nurses.
She expressed frustration over the process.
“I am very frustrated and I am deeply disappointed in this management,” Garlick said.
Tufts nurse Florence Holmes says she concerned because she’s heard about complaints from patients.
“I’ve actually spoken with a physician who said he needed assistance during a surgery and didn’t get everything that he needed during the surgery. So, he had to do it himself due to the lack of nurses and incompetency,” Holmes said.
Garlick says she’s also a registered nurse and wants to make sure she is getting correct information about the events going on inside the hospital.
“I am a registered nurse as well and I am trying very hard to make sure that the information that we’re hearing about the unsafe patient conditions is being well documented and that DPH is aware.” Garlick said.
The approximately 1,200 nurses who went on strike and were subsequently locked out are eligible to return to work on Monday.
“We can’t have this,” said Walsh. “There’s too much at stake here in the City of Boston, most importantly the patients, the patients who are losing this type of care.”