About 850 nurses are due to strike today at UMass Memorial Medical Center in the first strike at a Massachusetts hospital since nurses waged a 103-day walk out in 2001.
Despite talks yesterday between management and the Massachusetts Nurses Association, conflict remained over wage, healthcare, and pension demands, and the strike is set to begin today. UMass hospital has drafted in around 350 temporary nurses to be bussed across picket lines, to reduce the impact of the walk-out.
UMass has inferred that they will challenge the legality of any strike action. However, a strike headquaters has been set up near the hospital, where a rally was due to be held last night.
UMass has been seeking to undermine the contracts offered to nurses under previous management, proposing a series of "concessions", resulting in an attack on pension rights and an increase in workers' contributions to their healthcare plans. The union has taken a firm stance and refuses to make any concessions in worker's rights, while the nurses voted overwhelmingly in favour of work stoppages.