October 21, 2021

Warren, Markey, McGovern, Trahan Tell Tenet CEO: “Come to Worcester and End This Crisis”

Text of Letter

Washington, D.C. -- Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with Representatives James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), led the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation in sending a letter to Tenet Healthcare (Tenet) urging Dr. Saum Sutaria, Tenet’s CEO, to come to Worcester to settle the work stoppage between St. Vincent Hospital (St. Vincent’s), their parent company Tenet, and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), which represents the professional nurses at the hospital.

At the end of August, MNA agreed to the staffing improvements negotiated throughout the strike and were ready to return to work, but Tenet maintains their current punitive and retaliatory position of refusing to allow nurses to return to their positions they left when the strike began.

“We are alarmed and dismayed by Tenet’s efforts to prolong this crisis with their demand that nurses be denied a return to the positions they held, many of them for decades, prior to the strike. Tenet’s approach violates long accepted standards for the conclusion of a work stoppage and jeopardizes the safety of the patients who will be subject to care from more inexperienced replacement staff,” the lawmakers wrote. “Of more concern is Tenet’s decision to purposefully close desperately needed beds and eliminate services as a punitive ploy to force the nurses to end their strike, using patients and our communities as pawns in their anti-union strategy.”

With this letter, the lawmakers join Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty who three weeks ago called on Tenet’s CEO, Dr. Saum Sutaria, to come to Worcester to see the effects of the public health crisis that exists in our community, which has only been exacerbated due to Tenet’s failure to provide an equitable settlement to the ongoing work stoppage.

“We value the role our nurses have played and continue to play in keeping our communities safe and will not tolerate any attempt to punish them for exercising their lawful rights to advocate for their patients under federal labor law. We further oppose any effort to use this situation as a launching pad for nationwide attacks on long held labor standards. For the safety of our community, we join Mayor Petty in calling upon you, Dr. Sutaria, as Tenet Health’s CEO, to come to Worcester to end this crisis as soon as possible,” concluded the lawmakers.

Senator Warren has been calling for a fair contract with safe staffing contracts for MNA workers: 

·   In August, Senator Warren and her colleagues urged Tenet to pursue assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to resolve the strike at St. Vincent’s.

·   In March, Senator Warren expressed support for MNA workers, urging St. Vincent’s to “remain at  the table until a fair agreement for safe staffing standards is reached.”