WORCESTER — The nurses' strike is on.
Union officials representing 1,100 nurses at UMass Memorial Medical Center -- University Campus and hospital management spent four hours negotiating Monday afternoon but failed to reach a deal.
Nurses plan to strike at 6 a.m. Thursday. The hospital has spent $4 million to hire temporary replacement nurses, who will work for five days, beginning Thursday.
"We are disappointed by management's refusal to negotiate a settlement to this contract, yet we are committed to standing up for patients and our union rights," said Margaret McLaughlin, a nurse and co-chairwoman of the University Campus bargaining unit, in a statement.
Nurses who work at the Memorial and Hahnemann campuses reached a contract agreement last week and agreed not to strike.
The sticking point at University Campus is about staffing levels, especially at night, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Nurses want the hospital to set a patient-to-nurse ratio of 5-to-1. "Right now it's 7-to-1 and sometimes 8-to-1," said David Schildmeier, spokesman for the association.