Tufts nurses set to end strike; not welcome back at work yet

Nurses say patient safety, lack of resources behind their strike at New England medical center

More than 1,200 nurses at Tufts Medical Center went on strike at 7 a.m. Wednesday after last-minute negotiations between the union and the hospital failed.

It's the first time nurses in Boston have gone in strike in more than 30 years. "This decision really shows administration's lack of respect for its nurses and for the safety our patients".

The sticking point, hospital officials say, has been the retirement plan.

Hospital officials have said that they plan to use temporary workers while the nurses are on strike and to lock the nurses out for an additional four days following the strike.

"The union believes it can hold Tufts Medical Center hostage for more money - money we don't have", hospital CEO Dr. Michael Wagner said, according to the hospital's Twitter feed. "We have more than 320 experienced nurses here to care for patients", said Tufts Spokesperson Rhonda Mann.

"We get gunshots, we get people falling from trees, getting hit by cars. We don't have the staff", OR nurse Eileen Agranat said.

The union and the hospital are at an impasse over staffing levels, pay and retirement benefits.

Nurses say they are the lowest paid in the city and have the worst pension.

"It's not a place that any of us wanted to be but we feel very much forced into this situation", said Mary Havlicek Cornacchia. They send out blast text messages on a daily basis to try and fill holes, or nurses have to stay over time.

A federal mediator has been brought in to help with negotiations.

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