‘None of us wanted this’: Boston nurses go on strike for higher pay & more staff

 ‘None of us wanted this’: Boston nurses go on strike for higher pay & more staff
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has announced a strike after negotiations with Tufts Medical Center fell apart. The nurses felt betrayed as they walked off the job in hopes of securing better pay and more staff.

Some nurses felt like the hospital’s administration forced them to this point. The negotiations between the hospital administration and the MNA ultimately failed.

“We came to the table today hoping to reach an agreement,” Mary Havlicek Cornacchia, an operating nurse, told WCVB. “But Tufts management is determined to force a strike and subsequent lockout of our nurses.”

Another nurse, Karen Currier, said, “I feel like we’re at a moment that I knew we were going to come to. None of us wanted this to happen.”

The Wednesday protest revolves around what the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) labels “safety issues.” The goal of the protest is to get more nurses on staff and improve wage and pension protections, according to WBZ.

“It’s not a place that any of us wanted to be but we feel very much forced into this situation,” Cornacchia said.

For Chief Nursing Officer Terry Hudson-Jinks, “It’s a money issue,” she told WBZ.

“How do I know that? We agreed - and actually, it was our idea - to put additional ICU nurses in the contract of our final proposal. They rejected that. That tells you it’s not about the staffing. It’s about money, it’s about the pension,” she added.

The MNA said that the two sides disagreed on reforms of their pension plan, which they say is the worst in the city of Boston.

While the nurses may have seen this coming, it was not obvious to Tufts Medical Center’s chief medical officer.

“We didn’t expect it to happen,” Dr. Saul Weingart told WCVB. “We didn’t want it to happen, but we are prepared.”

Weingart said the nurses’ proposed plan would cost too much to put into place, but he also acknowledged the nurses should get a pay raise.

“We’ve offered raises of 5 percent on top of a 5 percent step raise for nurses who are relatively junior,” he said, adding that “for folks at the top of the pay grade, we’ve offered a 10.5 percent pay raise, which amounts to about $15,000 a year at the end of the contract,” WCVB reported.

The hospital says they will have more than 300 nurses on hand during the strike. The MNA said the strike will end on Thursday at 6:59 am.

This is the first nurses strike in Boston in 30 years, according to the Boston Globe.

Another Boston hospital is also making its way into national headlines.

An Iranian cancer researcher, Dr. Mohsen Dehnavi, who was arriving at Logan Airport on Monday to begin work at the Boston Children’s Hospital, was detained in the airport with his family before he could step foot in the city. The hospital has said that the reason for the detention remains unclear. Dehnavi and his family were sent back to Iran on Tuesday.

US Customs and Border Control said that the doctor was flagged due to “reasons unrelated” to President Donald Trump’s recent ban on people from six majority muslim countries. Iran is one of the countries included in the ban, the Washington Post reported.