700 Nurses Strike

Seven-hundred nurses are on strike in Worcester, Massachusetts. The nurses are asking the public to join them on the picket line. On July 13, the Valley Post travelled to Worcester and spoke with two of the nurses on the picket line at 123 Summer Street. Debbie Morgan has been a "same day surgery" nurse at Saint Vincent hospital for 35 years. In one of the below photos, she is holding a sign reading, "128 days out (on strike). 35 years of dedicated service." Morgan said, "Last year during Covid was a tough time. Same day surgery is not fighting for more staff. We are out here fighting for the in-patient units to get more staff. Our unit is not going to gain additional staff." 

Diane Goldberg has worked in the hospital's pulmonary (lung) care unit for 18 years. In the below photos she is wearing a black rain poncho. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." photos by Eesha Williams

"Over the past three years, we've diminished from about 1,000 nurses to about 900," Goldberg said. "We started to feel the tugs of working harder with less supplies. Management was trying to save money on supplies. Even before the pandemic we were running out of gowns for patients to wear. Gowns make it easier to put on electrocardiogram monitoring equipment, a blood pressure cuff, and an intubation tube."

She continued, "Last March with Covid we had about 900 nurses. Management accused the nurses of having stolen the masks when we ran out. It turned out management had the masks. No family members were allowed to come in. So we were the patients' family. We were the ones holding their hands when they died."

Striking nurse Diane Goldberg continued, "Our hospital management is not friendly to us. They are a hindrance. All they care about is money. We want enough nurses to care for our patients properly. A 'code cart' is when someone is dying. We do CPR and put in a breathing tube. At one point last year, I had four of those in an hour-and-a-half. We lost 100 nurses by June 2020. They quit. We were at 837 nurses."

The nurses have a web site at www.MassNurses.org.

The Worcester nurses are union members. Going on strike is the most powerful tool unions have. In the USA, union workers make an average of $191 more per week, compared to workers who don't have a union. Reducing inequality is good for democracy, since billionaires buy politicians. In the Valley, all UPS and Stop and Shop workers belong to a union. That means billionaires make less money and workers make more.

Hundreds of workers at the Brattleboro Retreat mental hospital are union members. So are workers at hospitals in Greenfield, Northampton and Springfield; and at the food co-ops in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro.

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