Readers of this blog will be familiar with our questions about what happens when for-profit corporations purchase Catholic hospitals. No man can serve two masters, our Lord reminded us (Mt 6:24). These tie-ups inevitably bring a tug-of-war between the mission of a Catholic hospital and the mission of delivering profits to shareholders.
The St Vincent’s Hospital strike in Worcester MA is a key example. Like the CWA members now on strike at Buffalo’s Mercy Hospital, the nurses at St Vincent’s walked off the job to protest inadequate staffing levels. The strike has dragged on more than six months. Tenet Corp., which owns the hospital, has hired replacement workers whom they say will permanently replace the striking nurses – a practice that the Church has condemned, supporting efforts during the 1990s to outlaw it.
Meanwhile, a Catholic Worker community nearby has been organizing solidarity for the strikers, circulating a petition on their behalf among area Catholics and appearing at events with banners supporting the nurses. It’s great to see a Catholic Worker community bearing witness in one of today’s critical labor struggles.