Category Archives: Fashion

Chef Joey! Always in style!


By Chef Joey


A clafoutis is probably the easiest dessert on the planet to make, and often times it is cooked while you are eating dinner.

The joy of this recipe is that you can add any fruit to it – blueberries, blackberries and, most popular, is cherries – with the pits!

Strawberry growing in the Vernon Hill School garden!

It’s all ingredients most people have at home – just get the fruit!

You’ll need:

1 1/4 cup milk

Vegan milk options

3 eggs beaten, first add 1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (if the fruit is sweet, use less sugar!)

Vegan cooking tips …

and a pinch of salt – not much at all!

And a couple cups of berries.

Usually the cake is sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.

In a bowl use 1/2 the sugar amount – say 1/4 cup – add the beaten eggs (with the vanilla – milk – flour and pinch of salt).

Use butter …

… to cover an oven-proof pie plate.

Coat well … pour in half the mix.

Cover with your fruit, and sprinkle the rest of the sugar directly and evenly on the fruit. Then top with the rest of the batter.

Bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes, and use the toothpick method – it should come out clean – to test if your dessert is done.

Bon appétit!


Vegan bakers …

From Edith: a book review … and a column

Book Review

By Edith Morgan

STOLEN by Richard Bell

Edith, in her garden. CECELIA file photo.

With all the discussion and reaction to the proposal to teach CRITICAL RACE THEORY – CRT – in our public schools, I felt the need to put in my two cents, as I have always been troubled by the lack of serious teaching of civics and history I our schools. For years I was an elementary school teacher, employed by the Town of Shrewsbury. In elementary grades, we teach some hero-worship and glance over the less attractive events of our American past. And in order to hang on to our vision of ourselves as “exceptional” in all areas, we have glossed over much of our history, and we have spent precious little time and thought on realities.

But there are now numerous groups who are insisting that their stories and experiences be told, fully and truthfully. That is behind the push to teach about the Black experience in America. And, I might add, we should also be learning about how the human race has mistreated its members in other places – those of us who have experienced the numerous attempted genocides in our lifetimes (i.e., the Holocaust in Germany and Europe, the Armenian genocide, the mass killings in Cambodia, the on-going attempt at extermination of the Yuighurs in China, etc., etc., etc)

So when my brother-in-law gave me the book STOLEN to read, after he had finished reading it, I got into it. The book seems very timely, as it is the non-fiction description of the kidnapping of five young Black boys, between the ages of 11 and 17, in the early 1800’s in the area where Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania meet.

We here in Massachusetts know about the ”Underground railroad,” but how many of us know about the “Reverse Underground Railroad”?

There was a thriving trade in human beings, kidnapped from their families and enslaved down South. It was a lucrative business before the Civil War and was maintained by terror and brutality. The families of the kidnapped got little or no help from authorities when they attempted to trace their missing loved ones.

I will not give a way the ending, but the odyssey of five boys who escape makes great reading – and gives us an insight of what life was like in early America for so many. … I could have hoped that we here in America would really have been exceptional, but it seems we too have a cruel past that we need to explore and expiate. Our cruelty to one another is nothing new, and even a cursory reading of our history is replete with examples. Knowing and admitting it does not destroy our love of our country, America: It should just act as a guide for doing better now and in the future.


Are we back to normal yet?

By Edith Morgan

Ever so gradually, the gates to some sort of normalcy are creaking open – and we can get a glimpse at the NEW “normal.”

We can eat out, either inside the restaurants or outside – on sidewalks or in parking lots. And we can be mask-less if we are vaccinated or still masked if not. But it seems a number of the previous wait staff of restaurants have not returned, so often service is slower – and “help wanted “ signs are everywhere. The abysmal pay rate – especially for the “back of the house” – has been exposed during the pandemic, along with so many other inequities in America: health care, child care …

But there is optimism, and some of the old familiar restaurants that have folded are being replaced by new, ethnic ventures. The grocery shelves in our supermarkets are slowly being replenished, although there are still pockets of emptiness …

Mother Nature has been on a rampage everywhere in our country due to climate change but again, now that we are getting out more, we can see we have been spared the fires and deadly high temperatures of the West. But, as always before, the weather remains unpredictable and everchanging, as we in New England are so accustomed to note.

But it is not the same world we are opening up to: whether some people want to admit it, irreversible changes have taken place. Those who keep track of these things have been warning us, and at last we have a President and an Administration in Washington D.C. that seems to get it. The polar cap IS melting, our glaciers are disappearing, and the air we breathe to stay alive too is threatened. In many parts of America and of the world, species of familiar animals and plants are disappearing … dying out.

But I have always believed that “to be informed is to be forearmed,” and I am heartened by the many small but significant moves to re-use, recycle, reverse and renew. Worcester has been for sometime planting and replanting public trees – though not very many in Vernon Hill or Green Island and in our other inner-city neighborhoods. Worcesterites who have yards are planting and caring for trees in their yards.

I have looked into environment-friendly surfaces to use instead of the tar and cement on our parking area. And of course now the big car manufacturers are all featuring hybrid or wholly electric cars. And I go shopping with several permanent shopping bags to fill – far fewer of the old transparent and disposable bags.

So, we are gradually getting back to “normal” – but it is a “new normal,” rekindling the old that was good and changing for the better that which needs much improvement.

Worcester Youth – always in style!

Rally against youth violence

By Jim Coughlin

Hope the teens served up some veggie burgers at the event! Teen years: a good time to explore veganism/the American factory farming system/healthy vegetarian cooking.

Worcester’s Youth Center on Chandler Street, at the site that formerly housed Capitol Toy, was the scene on Saturday, June 26, of a rally against youth violence. It was organized by youth at the center. It ran from 11 a to 3 p and began with opening ceremonies that featured brief remarks by the center’s director, Sam Martin, Mayor Joseph Petty, as well as Worcester-area state representatives Mary Keefe and David LeBoeuf. Also present were Nydia Colon, director of Creative Leadership at the youth center, and Etel Haxhijaj, one of four candidates vying for the open City Council district seat in District 5.

In interviews with this InCity Times/CECELIA reporter, both Colon and Haxhiaj spoke passionately oabout the problem of youth violence. However, neither woman made any specific reference to incidents of youth violence within Worcester. Haxhijai said, “I define violence as responding to a lack of opportunity experienced by homelessness. If young people are not having opportunity, these conditions can lead to violence.” She formerly served as the executive director of the Worcester Public Schools Dynamy Program for four years, from 2009 to 2013.

Colon said the Youth Center “uses time to test out the waters to find out what they, (the members of the youth center) are good at for interests in a vocation and to pair that with evidenced-based curriculum to have a conversation with the kids.” She said before the pandemic hit, the youth center was serving an average of 60 young people a day and, once Covid 19 hit, they were serving between 20 and 25 students between the ages of 14 and 24.

After the ceremony, those in attendance were served food outside the center: a choice of either hot dogs and hamburgers or Mexican food. During the event, many of the center’s members performed in the main hall. Among them were Jayliany Rivera, 15, a Junior at Worcester’s South High and Shardai Sam-Clarke, 27, of Worcester, who told me she is a songwriter. The song she sang before about 40 people was about, “healthy examples of what love should look like.”

The center’s Executive Director Director Sam Martin was presented with a Resolution that was jointly co-sponsored by Representatives Keefe and LeBoeuf.

Safeguarding animals and workers in American slaughterhouses: President Biden makes a good start …

Slowing down slaughter speeds is a step forward, but we can do far better!

By Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid has changed the world❤🌎!

President Joe Biden’s recent decision to dismantle a Trump-era program that allowed slaughterhouses to raise slaughter-line speeds should be applauded by all, regardless of politics.

The program — implemented by at least eight slaughterhouses — relies on employees to inspect pig carcasses and perform other tasks as bodies go whizzing by at breakneck speed. It cocks a snoot at anyone who values animal welfare, worker safety or the food supply.

In March, a federal district court ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t thoroughly evaluate the program’s impact on worker safety when it allowed slaughterhouses to eliminate any already-sparse restrictions on line speeds.

When it was first implemented, food inspectors said that pork was “more likely to contain feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders and unwanted hair” as a result of this plan.

Of course, the program also increases animal suffering, as what the animals endure is not even a consideration when workers must slaughter as many animals as possible in the shortest possible time.

Pig slaughterhouses will have until the end of June to reduce line speeds to the previous legal limit, which had already been roundly criticized for being too high: 1,106 pigs per hour or 18 pigs per minute. Not even Superman would be able to examine a body for disease at that rate.

Slaughterhouses are dangerous for both man and beast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slaughterhouse employees endure about 16 times as many illnesses and injuries as the average American worker. When COVID-19 swept through slaughterhouses, some Tyson Foods supervisors allegedly took bets on how many slaughter workers would get sick.

Biden had already rejected a proposal to increase chicken slaughter line speeds.

Chicken slaughterhouse workers have complained of having to wear diapers because they’ve been denied bathroom breaks, and 60 Minutes described the liquid often seen in the bottom of a package of chicken in the supermarket as “fecal soup.”

Small wonder that USDA inspectors often state that they don’t eat meat. They’ve seen too much to be able to stomach it, and anyone concerned about animals, slaughterhouse employees or food safety would do well to follow their example.

Dismantling the program is a good thing but not a significant sign of progress. Having stood inside several slaughterhouses, I can confirm that they are egregiously cruel. Even after the line speed is reduced, animals will still be hung upside down, scalded and bled to death, sometimes while they’re still conscious, as government reports show. Newborn pigs are often killed before they even reach the slaughterhouse — workers commonly slam their heads into the concrete floor, also known as “thumping.”

Pigs, chickens, cows and other animals experience pain and fear, just as humans do. In nature, they play, explore and love.

Read Ingrid’s book ANIMALKIND with a friend!

They have impressive memories and problem-solving skills. Piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs “sing” to their piglets while nursing. Chickens talk to their chicks while they’re still inside the shell and in behavioral studies have been shown going to great lengths not only to protect them but also to find places to build nests away from prying human eyes. All animals have personalities and emotions, not just the dogs and cats we have in our homes. It is only a lack of familiarity with them, and an upbringing steeped in speciesism, that leads us to believe that some living beings are meant for the table.

While the previous administration’s inhumane — and unsafe — slaughter program is coming to an end, the suffering that we may find inconvenient to examine closely will continue as long as people choose to eat flesh.

Let’s not return to the way things were — we should move forward and focus on vegan meats and other tasty vegan foods, including Beyond Sausage, tempeh bacon, vegan ham and Gardein Chick’n Strips. There’s no need to wait for politicians to protect animals or human health — PETA will gladly send you a free vegan starter kit. VISIT PETA.ORG



Jim – always in style 🇺🇸❤

The rescue attempt, the losses … reporting from St. John’s Church

By Jim Coughlin

Worcester Police Officer Emmanuel “Manny” Familia of Worcester died on June 4, 2021, after trying unsuccefully to save a youth aged 14 from Virginia, who was visiting family in Worcester, when he swam out too far – along with two other youths – and was seen drowning by onlookers. They called 911…the WPD arrived at the pond at Green Hill Park. Officer Familia was one of a few Worcester police officers who waded, then swam into the pond to save the kids.

Familia was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, on February 23, 1983. He came to Worcester as a young boy and graduated from Doherty Memorial High School, the class of 2001. After graduating from Doherty where he met and married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer (Cruz) Familia and had two children: his son, Jovan F. Familia and a daughter, Jayla A. Familia. Following high school, he attended Quinsigamond Community College and most recently was pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Marie College in Paxton, Massachusetts.

For the past five years, Manny served as a police officer for the Worcester Police Departme. He was assigned to the Operations Division working in the department’s Route 2, serving in the northeast section of Worcester and in the department’s Tactical Patrol Force, along with the Crises Intervention Team and also as a Crises Negotiator.

Prior to joining the Worcester Police Department, he previously worked for the the town of Oakham, the Qunsigamond Community College and the Clark University Police Departments.

The wake for the fallen officer was held at St. John’s Church on Temple Street from 4 to 8 p.m on June 10th and the funeral Mass of the Resrruction for the
Catholic Church was held the following day at 10 a.m. I attended. At the start of visiting hours, a long line of mournors had assembled that initially consisted of mostly uniformed police officers … as the line grew, there was also a smattering of uniformed police from other communities from some communites in the Worcester area.

However, when this reporter sought to get comments from Manny’s comrades on the Worcester police force, not one of them felt comfortable about commenting for the story on their fallen comrade.

The loss of their brother was too great for all of them to come to say anything.

One WPD officer told me, “its too soon.”

While another told me, “I just can’t talk about it.”

This reporter totally understands trauma and loss because I am a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing that had happened in Copley Square Boston on April 15, 2013. I was riding my bicycle just outside the perpiter of the race. I carry some of the battle scars with me everyday, mainly severe hearing loss in my left ear.

I did, however, get a comment from one of Manny’s classmates from his time in the police academy in July of 2016. Peter Geradi, a patrol officer with the town of Westboro Police Department, said: “I loved his smile. … He (Manny) would put himself before others. He would be the first one to take blame if anyone got in trouble and say it was my fault.”

Also in the line was a uniformed police officer from Northhampton, Massachusetts, who was with his partner, “Douglas,” a 3 year old Golden Doodle, a comfort dog whom he described as “officially working” as they both scanned the line of mourners waiting to go into the century old church to pay their last respects to Manny.

I did manage to get a comment from one of the fallen officer’s relatives, Mario Pineda, who said, “I am a second uncle to Manny. We played softball, together. This is so sad.”

Also in the line was a uniformed police officer from the Worcester area who also knew Familia but declined to give either his name or department affiliation because of what he said “was (police) department policy.”
“Manny was a very good officer, was very proficient and knew how to deal with numerous situations. He was just a very proficient cop and his potential was limitless,” he said.

As the line of police officers began to thin out, it was then Manny’s friends and neighbors that composed the on-going line going into St. Johns Church. Among them was Roberto Diaz of Worcester who grew up with Manny on Dewey Street in Worcester. He said, “We played basketball, together.” He was a great athlete, a good athelete, a good brother, father and husband, he said, adding, “there was nothing he could not put his mind to and could not do.”

What Diaz mostly admired about their relationship was that despite their both coming from different cultures – Manny was Dominican and Diaz is Puerto Rican – there was respect and love.

Chef Joey:🤸‍♂️🌹🌼June – and Dad’s Day – approaches! 🏃📸❤🕶

By Chef Joey Cancelmo

Chef Joey welcomes summer … and Father’s

As we put our flags back into the vault until the 4th of July – June brings us a rather subdued “Sunday” otherwise known as “Father’s Day.” Unlike Mother’s Day, this special holiday tends to revolve around spending the day with ‘Pops,’ instead of the traditional crowded outing to a restaurant (Mother’s Day).

Dads get to cook on their special day, play games with kids and are showered with little things made by their children at school or home, and usually less fancy than the gifts of Mother’s Day. The day is generally celebrated around the world in June, an outdoor kind of day.

The origins of Father’s Day, however, stem back to the Catholics of the Middle Ages. It was held in March, on the 19th of June, that just happened to be St. Joseph’s Day. Coincidence? I think not. Joseph was Jesus’s earth bound dad. The holiday was moved to July, because as name days were often celebrated over birthdays (no one kept track back then), the Joseph’s got their day back. So, over the years (we are talking the 1400s) it was changed to “Mary’s Busband’s Day.”

So, turn the calendar to the 20th century, and after many petitions, Sonora Smart Dodd, a notable teacher, felt bad there was no specific day to honor one’s father. June 19, 1910, was the first official launch of this day now known as Father’s Day. She had reason: her father was a single dad to SIX children after his wife died! Originally, she had hoped for the holiday to be celebrated on the 5th, as it was his birthdate. Once the day was approved, but due to a glitch with her pastor, they had to postpone it, as he did not have a sermon prepared!

So as families celebrated in religious institutions, it was not until 1972, the year of the Ford Pinto, that then President Richard Nixon inaugurated the national celebration of Father’s Day as we know it. All the greeting card companies lived happily ever after!

Australia does not celebrate until September, but then again, they are far away. In 2004, in Greece, Dr. Nicholas Spitalas started a petition in schools for “single fathers” to be recognized in schools. It worked. By 2010 it was official.

There you have it. The quickie version of centuries of celebrations; all countries have their specialties. All families have their traditions.

What is extra special about Father’s Day is it goes multi-generational – there are no Grandfathers or Great Grandfathers this day because everyone loves their Papa!

Chef Joey is “Papa” to Gigi❤, adopted a few years ago by Joey and his partner, Richard. They’re great dads!🤸‍♂️🏃‍♀️🏃

🌱Ooops! Forgot to post …from Chef Joey🤸😊🌺


Text and pics by Chef Joey

ICT_Yum Yums-edited
Chef Joey!!!!!!!!💟🌼💟🌼💟

So when you decided to buy Syrian bread at the grocery store, and you buy a package and it’s like $3 for 10 slices!! you explore your options… You can buy a whole bag of flour for $2, a couple of packets of yeast for $1.50, a pinch of salt (almost free), don’t forget your sunflower oil … and you can have 1,000 cirlces of Syrian bread!!


Take 2 1/2 cups of flour

a teaspoon of salt

5 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 packet of yeast

and 1 teaspoon of sugar …

In a small bowl, mix the teaspoon of sugar in the yeast, together with a little bit of warm water – nothing that would burn you – you don’t want to kill the yeast.

It will start forming; add the flour, oil, salt etc. Mix. Roll it over several times – not too much – otherwise you will make the gluten come out… Form into a ball. Cover and let rise twice the size, usually about an hour.

Take it out, make small balls the size of a meatball or an enlarged golf ball.

Take a nonstick skillet, rub it with oil, take your pieces of bread roll them flat and toss them into the frying pan …


… about a minute and a half each side. Flip it over and, when it starts to bubble, double in size like a jiffy pop container, it’s done. Place it in a dish and continue – it’s like making pancakes with bread!


You can even freeze them – but they must thaw to room temp. You will never buy Syrian bread again!

(Hint: If you’re in a hurry, buy frozen or fresh pizza dough! Same thing – roll and fry!)

💙Caring about ALL God’s birds and creatures – ALWAYS IN STYLE!🐰🐔🐥🐺🐶🐦🐑🐹🐧🐬🐓🐀🐐🐖🐂🐅🐎🐩🐪🐿

Found a Baby Bird? The Best Thing to Do May be Nothing at All!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post


In my neighborhood, I’m known as the “animal person.” People ask me for help and advice on everything from getting a lost dog back home safely to identifying the species of frog they heard croaking the night before.

This time of year, I can count on receiving at least one call, text or knock on my door, followed by, “I found a baby bird! What should I do?”

As much as I love to help, the answer is often “Don’t do anything!”

People are surprised to hear this. It’s natural to want to scoop up a vulnerable-looking fledgling bird, squirrel pup or baby bunny. But in many cases, doing so can actually hurt — rather than help — animals’ chances for survival.

Respect Mother Nature💙

Many baby animals don’t need “rescuing.” Their parents are likely nearby, foraging for food and keeping an eye on them. Knowing the difference between an animal in danger and a youngster who is simply learning to navigate in a great big world is key.

If you see a bird on the ground with a half-inch or more of tail feathers, you’re looking at a fledgling, who is learning to fly. Don’t interfere, unless it’s a dangerous area or there is a cat or dog nearby. In that case, place the bird on the lowest branch of a tree or shrub and try to return any dogs or cats to their homes (and ask their guardians to keep them indoors).


Featherless birds are nestlings and cannot fly. Place them back in the nest, if you can, or make one out of a berry basket or other small container with holes punched in the bottom and filled with shredded tissue. Hang it in a sheltered spot near the original nest, and watch for the parents to return. Don’t worry – birds won’t reject their babies just because a human has touched them.

Young squirrels are often found after their nest has been blown down. The best way to reunite them with their mother is to place them in a box containing a hot-water bottle wrapped in a dishtowel and set it at the base of a tree. The mother will usually retrieve them, but only if she feels safe — so stay far enough away, and keep dogs, cats and children away, too.

Squirrels – too cute!

People who see a solitary fawn or a nest of baby bunnies without their mother nearby often mistakenly assume that they have been orphaned. But mother deer attend to and nurse their young only a few times per day, and fawns spend most of their time alone — quiet and almost motionless — in open fields.

Similarly, mother cottontail rabbits usually visit their nests to feed their young only at dawn and dusk, to avoid alerting predators. To find out if a mother rabbit is coming back, try placing a string over the nest. If the string has been moved the next morning, the mother has returned.

How do you know if animals actually need your help? If they’re clearly injured (e.g., they have a broken wing or leg, are bleeding or are unconscious); if they’ve been attacked by a cat, dog or other predator; if they’re weak and shivering or emaciated; and/or they’re definitely orphaned (e.g., you’ve seen the dead parents) — that’s when they need to be rescued!

CONNECT WITH PETA.ORG to learn more about animals and animal issues – and to help animals! Martha Stewart and Payless Shoes did!

Place the animal in a safe, warm but well-ventilated, newspaper-lined box and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately. Don’t try to care for injured or orphaned wildlife yourself: In many cases, it’s against the law, and baby animals typically don’t fare well when raised by people who don’t have any training.

As surely as April showers bring May flowers, springtime brings baby animals. Knowing when to take action — and when not to — can save lives!

😊From France: new recipe🌹 and pics🌺 from Chef Joey🌿


Text and photos by Chef Joey


Tiramisu – the fastest, cheapest and easiest dessert on the planet to make!!

You will need:

1 package (24 pieces) lady fingers


3 eggs, separated


1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

8 oz of Mascarpone cheese


… 1 cup of coffee (decaf works, too)

and powdered chocolate



In a bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and mix well …


… Add the Mascarpone. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form …

… and carefully fold them into the cheese. Layer a pan with 12 biscuits.


Pour half the coffee evenly over biscuits …


… and cover with half the cheese mixture. Repeat, then sprinkle with cocoa powder. Refrigerate at least 3 hours – and that’s it! Enjoy!

Thanks, Chef Joey!

Jim – always in style! 🌻 St. Vincent’s Hospital Nurses Strike Continues

March and rally in support of strike was held April 26 …

By Jim Coughlin

St. Vincent’s Hospital in downtown Worcester was the scene on Wednesday, April 20, of a rally in support of the over 850 registered nurses who have been on strike there since March 8 against the Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare which operates the hospital.

According to David Schildmeier, the press secretary for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, MNA, the union to which the striking nurses belong, the march was billed as a “March to support St. Vincent Hospital nurses.”

Downtown Worcester: March in support of St. V’s nurses’ strike. Photo submitted.

The rally was preceded by a march that began at City Hall and culminated at the north entrance to the hospital. The event was sponsored and organized by PUMA, The Parents Union of Massachusetts and Jobs with Justice, with participation by the Tenant and Housing Alliance, Latinas United and Rock of Salvation Church.

In a press release from PUMA, Nelly Medina, the group’s organizer, in announcing their support for the nurses, said, “We support the St. Vincent Nurse’s decision to strike because we have a stake in the outcome of this struggle as it will ensure the ultimate safety of our community.”

“Our children are the future and, as we support the Nurses at St. Vincent’s, with this event we model for them how to stand in solidarity with workers against unbridled capitalism and corporate greed,” Medina said.

In a wide-ranging, 40-minute telephone interview with Maria Ritacco, the vice president of the MNA who also serves as a member of the bargaining unit for St. Vincent’s nurses, she said the strike “is over improvements in patient safety.”


Ritacco has worked at St. Vincent’s for nearly 30 years as a registered nurse, beginning in 1983. “I have worked my entire career at St. Vincent’s Hospital,” she said, that has for generations been known as “St. Vs.” She began working in the surgical unit, then five years in the Intensive Care Unit, (ICU) and currently works in the recovery room.

She said her union would like the ratio of nurses to patients in the various units of the hospital such as Medical Surgery, the Emergency Room, [ER] Intensive Care, [ICU] and In-Patient increased to all be reduced. “The hospital ignored all of our requests to even discuss this staffing issue because they thought that the nurses would not go on strike if they did not improve ratios,” Ritacco said.

She said she thought the strike authorization vote would be enough to get them to discuss staffing improvements. However, she added that “it [the strike vote] just didn’t happen in two months. We were considering a job action before the pandemic. When COVID hit a year ago, we decided to put off the job action until the COVID numbers came down. If there was no progress at the [bargaining] table, we would then consider job action in early February, [this year].

The union leader said Worcester’s two other hospitals: Memorial and UMass Memorial Medical Center have already established the nursing ratios that the union is currently seeking to establish at St. Vincent’s. “It’s not an unusual practice,” she said.

She took St. V’s to task for their unusually high profit margin of 14%, which contrasts with the much lower profit margins of the city’s other hospitals – which is around 3% – and the 3.5% average profit rate for hospitals nationally.

She mentioned the hospital’s actual amount of profit last year was recorded at $414 million. In a press release, the union said on the day of the nurse’s strike authorization vote, the hospital had announced their profit margin.

In the course of my interview with the union leader and member of the bargaining unit, she said the “strike was not about their pay grade” and only
spoke of “patient ratios and patient safety.” However, when asked about an increase in their pay grade, she would only say the union and the hospital “were close to an agreement” [on a salary increase] but declined to get specific.

“The hospital was happy to throw a little bit of money at nurses as opposed to meeting our demands for changes in staffing to improving staffing to enhance patient safety,” Ritacco said. She also said throughout the 45-day strike the hospital has been bringing replacement nurses to staff the hospital in their absence. Ritacco said those nurses are being flown in “from throughout the country” and are being paid double (between $95 and $100 hourly) than what the regular St. V’s nurses were being paid.

She said the hospital “has been spending approximately forty-five million dollars to beat back the demands of the nurses, in addition to paying for the daily Worcester police detail.

In a press release, the union said the police detail “costs more than $30,000 a day.”

Ritacco said her membership “is not going in the building until the staffing problems are resolved.” When asked if she sees an eventual resolution of the strike, she said, “There is no doubt in my mind that the hospital will come back to the bargaining table. … Their goal is to make as much money as possible, and nurses are interfering with that by withholding their labor.”

Meanwhile, the union has established a strike fund which she said nurses have access to “on a weekly basis.” There is also a “Diaper and Baby Formula Bank” which has been set up to aid nurses and their children that was initiated by a nurse at UMass/ Memorial Medical Center.

They have also garnered the political support of Massachusetts’s two United States Senators: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, along with Worcester’s Congressman Jim McGovern and the entire Worcester City Council and Mayor Joseph Petty.


On April 26, it was announced that the two sides in the dispute had returned to negotiations but, after briefly meeting with hospital representatives, the union issued a statement calling the hospital’s offer “insulting.”