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‘Contentious’ Year Ahead For Mass. Nurses — MNA

Several hundred nurses are expected to picket outside the UMass Memorial hospital campus in Worcester on Wednesday — and this, says Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesman David Schildmeier, is only the opening salvo in what promises to be a “very contentious environment between nurses and health-care administrators over the coming year.”

During the 1990s, he said, the last time the health care system was in a state of major upheaval, there were eleven strike votes and two nurses’ strikes in the state, and “we anticipate that kind of activity, because they’re really making dangerous decisions.”

The MNA says the picket is protesting “poor staffing conditions, the recent decision to close a much-needed medical surgical floor, as well as demands for wage and benefit cuts; all of which the nurses believe compromise their ability to deliver the quality of care patients deserve.” Their announcement is here.

The last Massachusetts nurses’ strike was a five-hour stoppage in 2007, Schildmeier said. But as hospitals in the current economic climate try to cut staffs and services, “we expect a lot of contentious demonstrations, because nurses aren’t going to stand by and let their patients die.” Having been through the cutbacks of the 1990s and their effects, he said, “We’re not going to do it again.”