WORCESTER, Mass. (WWLP) – Nurses from Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester plan to strike Monday morning over staffing levels.

Sunday, they organized a pre-strike rally to build support for their cause outside of the hospital.
About 800 nurses plan to participate in the strike which started at 6 a.m.

Contract negotiations with Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, which owns the hospital, are ongoing. They maintain staffing levels have been appropriate. The nurses disagree.

“All the hospitals around us have better staffing ratios. We just want to be on par with UMass and hospitals like that just to be able to keep our patients safe,” Nurse Charlotte McKeln said.

The last time Saint Vincent nurses went on strike was in 2000 when a 49-day work stoppage helped them get their first union contract.

As the nurses began their strike, Massachusetts Senators Edward Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Charles McGovern put out a joint statement in support.

“Tenet Healthcare has still not made appropriate and necessary movement on the issue of staffing. We urge Tenet to listen to and act on the concerns of St. Vincent nurses. This is a patient safety issue, but it’s also about our values.”

In a statement released Sunday, Saint Vincent assured that the hospital is prepared and staffed to continue safely caring for patients while its nurses go on strike.