WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - UMass Memorial Medical Center and the union representing 1,100 nurses at its University Campus reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract late Wednesday night, averting a strike that had been scheduled to start Thursday.
The sides were stuck on staffing levels, with nurses demanding more of them be on duty at a time, which they said ensures patient safety and care.
"The three-year contract provides for significant improvements in staffing levels on all floors with limits on nurses' patient assignments we sought to ensure safe patient care," said Margaret McLoughlin, chairwoman of the local bargaining unit of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.
The contract, which still must be ratified by union membership, sets an average patient-to-nurse ratio of 5-to-1, she told The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester. A ratification vote will be scheduled within a few days.
University Campus nurses received the same pension deal as Memorial Campus nurses, and got raises of 1 percent per year.
"Together with the MNA, we have reached an agreement that meets the objectives of the Medical Center and is also in the best interests of our nurses, and most importantly, the patients and the families in the communities we serve," Dr. Eric Dickson, president and chief executive officer of UMass Memorial Health Care, said in a statement.
The agreement came after 18 months of negotiations.
The nurses' union thanked U.S. Rep. James McGovern, who had urged the sides to get back to the bargaining table.
The hospital had said it was prepared for a strike and had hired temporary nurses.