The union representing 3,300 nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital voted Monday to authorize a one-day strike, setting the stage for a possible walkout this month.
The vote comes after nine months of increasingly acrimonious contract negotiations between the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Brigham, one of the flagship teaching hospitals owned by Partners HealthCare. Ninety-five percent of the 2,460 nurses who voted cast ballots in favor of the work stoppage, the union said.
The union and the hospital have been unable to agree on wage increases, health benefits, and time off.
A strike still could be avoided if both sides reach a deal in the coming days. Nurses must provide 10 days’ notice before a strike, so the earliest it could take place is June 24.
“We have reached the point where the hospital does not value and respect patients and nurses,” Trish Powers, the nurse who chairs the Brigham bargaining unit, said in a statement.
Hospital officials have already been planning for a potential strike. They said they are contracting with a staffing agency to hire 700 temporary nurses, who would work alongside about 130 nonunion Brigham nurses.
And even though the union authorized a one-day strike, Brigham has said that it will lock out the nurses for five days “for continuity of patient care and for economic reasons.”
Dr. Ron M. Walls, Brigham’s chief operating officer, said he was disappointed in the union’s vote.
“We sincerely hope that we can reach a fair and reasonable contract and avoid a strike,” he said in a statement Monday. “Our focus, however, remains on providing safe, high-quality care to our patients, and we will be ready to do so should a strike occur.”
Brigham nurses have never gone on strike. They last voted to authorize a walkout in 2006 but ended up settling before the planned strike.