Dana-Farber Nurses Set One-Day Methuen Strike; Mediator Could Ask for More Negotiations

Nurses at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Merrimack Valley in Methuen during an earlier picket. (Courtesy photograph.)

Registered nurses of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—Merrimack Valley issued notice Friday night that they plan to hold a one-day strike a week from Wednesday unless their employer agrees to a contract that provides secured benefits and competitive pay.

The nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said they are prepared to strike for 24 hours and picket in front of Dana-Farber in Methuen during regular clinic hours. They said they took the step “after repeatedly trying to get Dana-Farber executives to reach reasonable compromises on key issues, including a competitive wage step scale and a commitment to maintaining benefits throughout the life of their contract.”

“We are prepared to strike if necessary to protect cancer care quality and access for Merrimack Valley patients,” said Kerrin Albert, Infusion registered nurse. “We would prefer that Dana-Farber executives simply meet the needs of our nurses so we can maintain a stable workforce, but instead they have put us in this position to fully exercise our rights as union members.”

Nurses were required by labor law to give Dan-Farber at least 10 days’ notice before the strike. There is another negotiation session scheduled tomorrow, and it is expected a federal mediator will call the nurses back for an additional negotiation session or sessions prior to the strike date.

Nurses voted 97% to authorize a strike on Aug. 2. The union says Dana-Farber executives plan to spend many millions as it shifts its affiliation from Brigham and Women’s Hospital to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and plans to construct a freestanding inpatient cancer hospital. At the same time, nurses say, the hospital “refuses to make reasonable investments in its existing nurse and nurse practitioner workforce in Merrimack Valley.”

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