METHUEN - Dozens of nurses who provide cancer care in the Merrimack Valley staged a one-day strike Wednesday, asking for pay similar to what their counterparts make in Boston.
After unionizing last summer, the nurses are negotiating their first contract with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Methuen and the two sides haven't been able to reach an agreement.
"It can be difficult to take care of cancer patients in the community and the only way to keep competent nurses in the community is to pay them fairly," said nurse practitioner Kate Mitchell.
Thirty-eight nurses and nurse practitioners who work at Dana-Farber's satellite office in Methuen are calling for pay that is comparable to what Dana-Farber nurses make in Boston.
"We do the same job, we take care of Boston patients as well, so I think a lot of us don't understand why we are treated less than our counterparts in Boston," said infusion charge nurse Kerrin Albert.
The nurses said they're not asking for equal pay but they believe they deserve more than they're currently making.
"We respect the fact we live outside of Boston, we're OK with that but it shouldn't be such a large gap," said Mitchell.
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute said in a statement they're very disappointed in the decision to strike writing, in part, "The proposed contract is very competitive in the market and includes retroactive retirement contributions, significantly raised salaries, and step increases in wages. The [Massachusetts Nurses Association] rejected every one of those concessions, choosing to walk away from negotiations and our patients."
Although the strike is only for Wednesday, Dana-Farber said they hired outside nurses to care for their patients through Friday, meaning the nurses on strike won't be allowed back in the building until Monday.
for more features.