The nurses at Umass Memorial Medical Centre have won the demands of their strike after five hours' picketing.
The nurses walked out on Thursday after negotiations throughout Wednesday night failed to deliver. During the five-hour picket, an agreement was made and the nurses have managed to fight off a series of contract concessions.
The dispute began in 2005, when new management at the hospital brought in new contracts for the staff, proposing increased staff contributions to healthcare plans, and an attack on pensions. The nurses had been without contracts since April. However, the new contract will honour the existing programme, bring in an 80/20 contributory health plan for both full time and part time nurses, and includes sliding pay rises, annual pay scale adjustment and annual cost-of-living adjustments.
The strikers were prepared for a long-running strike, having previously waged a 103-day walk out in 2001. During the five hour strike, pickets were in place with strikers carrying placard with slogans including "Scabs go home", "Quality care before profits" and "Support your nurses".
Temporary nurses were used to reduce the impact of the strike. Around 300 nurses formed a picket, but around 850 nurses took part in strike action. A union spokeswoman has said that "ultimate credit goes to our members who came together to stand up for what they believed in."
The nurses are said to be glad to return to work, having achieved their aims so quickly. "It's awesome," said nurse Liz Grenier, "I thought this would be a lot longer. The hospital has just been really horrible."