Negotiators for the Tufts Medical Center and the Massachusetts Nurses Association agreed on an 18-month contract extension, only hours before 1,100 registered nurses were set to walk off their jobs at the Boston teaching hospital. The tentative deal was reached after 15 hours of bargaining, which extended into the overnight hours. The deal helped to avoid what would have been the first nurse’s strike at a Boston hospital in 25 years.
The contract does not resolve the ongoing dispute over the union’s demand for mandatory staffing levels, which was the key point in the talks; but the parties did agree that Tufts would continue its practice of not assigning more than five patients to a single nurse on the day or evening shift.
“Our nurses made a courageous stand for safe staffing and working conditions, and the hospital finally responded with improvements that we believe will enhance our ability to deliver the care our patients expect and deserve,” registered nurse Barbara Tiller, co-chairwoman of the union’s bargaining unit, said in a statement, shortly after the agreement was reached.