Tufts Medical Center Calls on Massachusetts Nurses Association to Respect Patient Care and Negotiate at the Bargaining Table

Mar 21, 2011, 14:38 ET from Tufts Medical Center

Union Tactics in Conflict with own Claims Regarding Importance of Patient Care and Safety

BOSTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tufts Medical Center today called on the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) to respect patients and their families by not threatening a strike and moving forward on their negotiations with Tufts Medical Center together.  The MNA's continued pickets, strike threats and other nonproductive tactics, which are often used to enhance the union's business goals, have been disruptive and are in direct conflict with the union's own claims regarding the importance of patient safety and quality of care.

In 2009, the MNA became a part of National Nurses United (NNU), a 160,000-member union known for its aggressive tactics around the nation.  Since that time, the NNU has been pursuing a national strike strategy in an attempt to secure mandatory staffing ratios, a proposal which has failed legislatively in Massachusetts for the past 15 years. In the past several months alone, the NNU has threatened or carried out strikes in dozens of hospitals around the nation, including in California, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Washington D.C., Minnesota and Massachusetts. This tactic unnecessarily increases health care costs and, most importantly, places patients and their families in the middle of a union's business goals.

"For over 200 years, Tufts Medical Center has been serving our patients and communities with high quality, affordable care," said Ellen Zane, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center.  "Our standards and quality outcomes give us bragging rights in Boston and beyond. It is disappointing that the NNU continues to use our hospital and patients as props to push its legislative agenda instead of working to benefit its membership.  We respect and appreciate the dedication of our nurses, physicians, staff and other caregivers who are so vital to our ability to deliver quality medical care locally– and the time is now for us to move forward together."

Tufts Medical Center has been involved in good faith negotiations with the MNA for nearly five months. During this time, the NNU has attempted to gain attention and confuse the public through ongoing pickets, vigils, attack ads and rallies.  The NNU and MNA have done a disservice to patients through repeated attempts to falsely impugn the quality of Tufts Medical Center's care, which has been consistently rated as exceptional by independent third-party experts.

"In order to best serve our patients and develop important medical advances, physicians, nurses and hospital leadership must be innovative and flexible," said Deeb Salem, M.D., a physician with a 36 year history at Tufts Medical Center.  "We are not interested in a national agenda. What we care about here is our local organization – the hospital we all love. The NNU's notion that pickets and strikes will improve patient care is a contradiction because at the end of the day all it does is cause undue stress for our patients and their families. It is not difficult to see that the real agenda for such perverse tactics are self serving and developed to enhance the union's business goals. Patient safety and the well being of the membership are not paramount to this union.  Most importantly, we want to work with our nurses to further enhance the care here at Tufts Medical Center. We value their ideas and their input, and we know that nursing leadership is committed to listening to them and wants to work together for a better future."

Tufts Medical Center has pledged it will continue to work with its nurses to deliver the highest quality of care, and it will continue good faith negotiations that consider the best interest of Tufts Medical Center nurses, patients, employees and the long-term health of the organization.  

About Tufts Medical Center

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.

SOURCE Tufts Medical Center