Mediation Attempted in Tufts Nurses Dispute
Saturday, August, 5, 2017
Tufts Medical Center and the Massachusetts Nurses Association turned to mediation in an attempt to resolve their dispute and avoid a strike, but now it seems as if their options are running out. A last ditch effort was made to avoid a strike, which would be the first in more than three decades.
The dispute is over the nurses’ contracts. There are more than 1200 nurses on staff at the medical center, all of whom are affected by the negotiations and would be affected by the new contract agreement. According to officials, if the final mediation attempt is unsuccessful, the strike will begin in mid-July.
The concern for a strike is so serious that Tufts recently held a press conference addressing how the scenario would be handled. More than 320 registered nurses have already been moved into the area to fill in if a strike occurs.
The dispute centers around three key areas, including wages, staff levels, and pension benefits.
The sides are both still willing to negotiate, but discussions have grown tense. In a statement issued by Tufts Medical Center CEO Dr. Michael Wagner, he said “They believe they can hold Tufts Medical Center hostage for more money, money that our organization simply does not have.”
Tufts has agrees to add 160 nurses, improve pension benefits, boost salaries by 10.5 percent and increase support staff, but according to the union, it is still not enough. According to the union, even with the improvements, Tufts is still below other hospitals in the area, and that nurses will train at Tufts and then move on to other positions where than can make up to $3 more per hour.
Both sides are optimistic a strike can be averted, but are still preparing for the worst.