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Biden will commemorate St. Patrick’s Day by praising the Good Friday accord.

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Biden will commemorate St. Patrick's Day by praising the Good Friday accord.
Biden will commemorate St. Patrick's Day by praising the Good Friday accord.

Biden will commemorate St. Patrick’s Day by praising the Good Friday accord.

 

President Joe Biden is commemorating St. Patrick’s Day by reaffirming the United States’ dedication to the Good Friday Deal, which has been under increasing strain since the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.

Biden, the first American president of Irish descent, will meet with Ireland’s prime minister, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, in a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The president will attend Mass near his family’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, before returning to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day festivities that have been scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual bilateral meeting between Biden and Martin — Biden’s third with a foreign leader since taking office eight weeks ago — will be accompanied by the presentation of an engraved shamrock cup, which has been sent ahead to Washington. It means that a practice that started in 1952 can continue unabated, even if COVID-19 issues are addressed.

Biden will also attend Vice President Kamala Harris’ meeting with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in support of the Good Friday Deal, according to the White House.

The Good Friday Agreement, signed in 1998, helped put an end to three decades of sectarian conflict over whether Northern Ireland should join Ireland or remain part of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on January 1 has heightened tensions at the Irish border in terms of trade and travel. The EU announced on Monday that it will take legal action against the United Kingdom, claiming that the former member is violating international law by unilaterally expanding a special trading arrangement at the land border that was established as part of the Brexit divorce agreement.

The US continues to support the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation, according to the White House. The agreement was described as “the pillar of security, stability, and prosperity for all of Northern Ireland’s people.”

According to the White House, Biden and Martin’s meeting will highlight their commitment to resolving global problems and fighting the coronavirus, among other topics.

The White House issued a statement saying, “Our two countries are committed to working together to safely restore global travel, work within multilateral fora to prevent and respond to potential outbreaks, and ensure a sustainable global economic recovery.”

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Braintree schools report assault in apparent ‘slap a teacher’ TikTok challenge

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Braintree schools report assault in apparent ‘slap a teacher’ TikTok challenge

A TikTok challenge called “slap a teacher” could have a Braintree student facing serious consequences and even legal ramifications after school officials reported the alleged assault on Thursday.

Braintree Interim Superintendent Jim Lee told parents in a letter, “The most recent TikTok challenge involves ‘slap a teacher’ and we had our first case in the district today,” according to reports.

Lee wrote, “Please be aware that physically assaulting any staff member in the Braintree schools will result in notification of the Braintree Police Department and significant school-based discipline, up to and including expulsion.”

Potential legal charges range from assault to indecent assault and battery.

A statement from TikTok, shared via Twitter said, “The rumored ‘slap a teacher’ dare is an insult to educators everywhere. And while this is not a trend on TikTok, if at any point it shows up, content will be removed.”

Lee said in his message to parents that TikTok challenges have led to vandalism and destruction in schools across the nation.

The social media app popular among teenagers has been downloaded more than 200 million times in the United States and has more than one billion users worldwide.

TikTok trends and challenges tend to catch on quickly and videos can amass millions of views.

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Brockton Police officer shot ‘several times,’ gunman dies: Police

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Massachusetts drownings: Man dies after getting caught in strong rip current

The barricaded gunman who shot a Brockton police officer “several times” later fatally shot himself Thursday night, according to police.

Investigators also found a dead male gunshot victim in an SUV near the chaotic scene on Taber Avenue.

The wounded officer was rushed to Boston Medical Center and is expected to survive.

Brockton Police responded to 62 Taber Ave., at around 5:45 p.m., after they received reports of a male with a gun. Police officers arrived, and gunshots were fired, according to the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office.

“A Brockton police officer was struck, several times,” the DA’s Office said in a statement.

The gunman then went into the home, where he remained holed up for several hours as police tried to negotiate with the barricaded suspect.

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Alex Cora explains decision to leave All-Star Matt Barnes off Red Sox’ ALDS roster: ‘Extremely difficult’

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Alex Cora explains decision to leave All-Star Matt Barnes off Red Sox’ ALDS roster: ‘Extremely difficult’

Matt Barnes experienced a breakthrough first half this season, becoming a first-time All-Star after a dominant three months as the Red Sox’ closer and earning a contract extension that would keep him in Boston for two more years.

Yet, three months later, he wasn’t even on the Red Sox’ playoff roster.

Barnes’ stunning second-half fall hit another low Thursday, when the Red Sox made the surprising decision to leave the veteran off their 26-man roster for the American League Division Series. Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that matchups against the Rays played a factor in the decision. But his struggles over the last two months couldn’t be ignored.

“Extremely difficult,” Cora said of the decision. “This guy has been here for a while. He’s been here, done that. But the uniqueness of (the Rays’) roster, we have to make some adjustments. We decided to go with the three lefties and actually, the 13-13 thing was a topic throughout the day, throughout the night, and even this morning. Obviously, it’s a hard conversation with the player, but at the end, we’re trying to have the roster that we do believe is going to help us to advance.”

Barnes, who posted a 2.25 ERA in 44 innings with 24 saves through Aug. 4, took a dive after that. He had a 13.50 ERA in August before testing positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 30, which kept him out until mid-September. Cora put him in lower-leverage situations in his return, where it looked like he had started to figure some things out, but he ultimately didn’t have enough time to be trusted in the postseason.

“Obviously, he is disappointed,” Cora said. “He wanted to be part of this. But at the same time, he’ll be a good teammate and he’ll be there for us. You never know what can happen today, tomorrow, or the next day as far as our roster with everything that can happen. He’ll be ready. But it wasn’t an easy decision.”

Martinez makes progress

J.D. Martinez, who missed Tuesday’s Wild Card win with a sprained left ankle, is active and on the Red Sox’ ALDS roster. He didn’t start Thursday’s Game 1, but was available as a pinch hitter, and Cora said there’s a “good chance” he starts Friday’s Game 2.

“He’s feeling a lot better,” Cora said. “He’s moving better. I’m not saying he’s going to be flying around the bases, but we’ll go station by station and hopefully he can hit one in the air, hit one out of the ballpark, and he can jog around the bases. It’s getting better. The medical staff, the last three days, even on the plane, they’ve done an amazing job. He’s in a much better spot than Monday.”

Renfroe: ‘No hard feelings’

Hunter Renfroe was designated for assignment by the Rays last November after helping them get to the World Series. Now, he’s back at Tropicana Field after a breakout season as the Red Sox’ everyday right fielder. But there’s no added motivation for him in this series after the way it ended for him in Tampa last year.

“You move on,” Renfroe said. “Those guys over there, they’re incredible. Their front office staff has been nothing but great for me. We knew going forward what they had planned for me and letting me go. So there’s no hard feelings.”

Renfroe was great against the Rays this season, slashing .338/.359/.649 with four homers and 18 RBI in 18 games. He said his familiarity with them played a part in his success against them.

“Obviously I’ve had a season of playing in Tropicana Field, so I think that’s kind of a big part of it, and I know their pitching staff,” Renfroe said. “I’ve played behind them for quite a while, and obviously they have a lot of new guys, but still I kind of know the ins and outs of how they do things, and I think that kind of helps me a little bit. But other than that, I think just playing here is a big advantage.”

Odds & ends

There were three other additions/subtractions to the Red Sox’ ALDS roster from the Wild Card game. Chris Sale, who will start Game 2, Danny Santana and Martin Perez were added, while Connor Wong, Jonathan Arauz and Jarren Duran were dropped.

Santana was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured related list. He hasn’t played since Sept. 10, but Cora preferred him over Duran because of his infield/outfield defensive versatility, switch-hitting ability and speed off the bench. …

NESN’s coverage of the Red Sox saw increased ratings in every demographic this season, according to the network. The adults 18-34 demographic had a 1.62 rating this season, a 41 percent growth from last season and highest since 2011. …

The remainder of the Division Series broadcast schedule was released. Friday’s Game 2 between the Red Sox and Rays starts at 7:02 p.m. on FS1, Sunday’s Game 3 is set for a 4:07 p.m. start on MLB Network, Monday’s Game 4 (if necessary) would start at 7:07 p.m. on FS1 and Wednesday’s Game 5 (if necessary) would begin at 5:07 p.m. on TBS.

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Construction worker who died in Boston fell 6 floors down stairwell shaft, police say ‘nothing suspicious’

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Construction worker who died in Boston fell 6 floors down stairwell shaft, police say ‘nothing suspicious’

The construction worker who died at an East Boston site fell about six floors down a stairwell shaft, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA has launched inspections of the subcontractor and the project’s general contractor, a spokesman for the federal agency said Thursday.

A Boston Police spokesman also said there’s “nothing suspicious” about the death.

The unidentified worker died Wednesday morning at the construction site located at 187 Sumner St. The address is at the corner of Paris Street and near the Maverick T station.

Upon arrival, Boston Police investigators found an adult male, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The worker was employed by a subcontractor, Evolution Iron Works of Woburn, according to OSHA.

“OSHA opened inspections yesterday of Evolution Iron Works and of the project’s general contractor, New England Construction,” an OSHA spokesman said. “Those inspections are ongoing. OSHA does not discuss the specifics on ongoing inspections.”

When an inspector finds violations of OSHA standards or serious hazards, OSHA may issue citations and fines. OSHA must issue a citation and proposed penalty within six months of the violation.

The president and CEO of New England Construction said the company “suffered a loss of life on one of our projects yesterday and our thoughts today are with the deceased gentleman’s family, friends, and co-workers.”

“We are actively and cooperatively working with safety and law enforcement officials in their investigation of this tragedy, and we will be unable to comment further until that work has been completed,” Matt Sluter added. “A loss of life affects us all. We have been in business for nearly four decades and this was the first time we have experienced such a loss.

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After public pressure, accidents, Charlie Baker appoints MBTA Board of Directors

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After public pressure, accidents, Charlie Baker appoints MBTA Board of Directors

After a rocky few months of mishaps for the MBTA, and after a nearly three-month wait, Gov. Charlie Baker appointed five members to the T’s seven-member Board of Directors.

“The expertise and diversity of perspectives that make up this Board will allow the MBTA to continue to focus on providing safe and reliable service to riders as it invests record levels of funding across the system,” Baker said in a statement Thursday.

Transportation advocates criticized Baker last month for failing to appoint the board members after the Fiscal Management Control Board, which Baker created in 2015 as a watchdog for the organization, lapsed at the end of June.

Baker created the board after a disastrous year felled by an extremely snowy winter and several accidents, and which aimed to get the organization’s finances under control. Baker then announced the creation of the Board of Directors in late July, but was slow to appoint the members.

In the interim, several MBTA accidents occurred, including Red and Green Line crashes, an escalator malfunction in Back Bay that injured nine, and the death of a Boston University professor who fell through a rusted-out Dorchester staircase near the JFK/UMass stop.

The MBTA Board of Directors will consist of seven members, one of whom will be Transportation Secretary and MassDOT CEO Jamey Tesler. The MBTA Advisory Board appointed its member, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, in August. He was required to have municipal government experience in the MBTA’s service area and experience in transportation operations or other related fields.

Baker appointed the remaining five members, including one person who’s a rider and resident of an “environmental justice population” and one recommended by the president of the AFL-CIO. The chair, Betsy Taylor, has served as the treasurer and chair of the Finance & Audit Committee for the MassDOT Board since 2015 and also worked at Massport.

Tesler said he’s hoping the board continues addressing “ridership and revenue challenges” wrought by the pandemic, while making investments in initiatives that improve reliability and safety.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement that he’s looking forward to working with the board.

The MBTA still faces its fair share of financial challenges, though: a report released last month by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said the T is headed toward “fiscal calamity” in just a few years, needing $1.25 billion in new annual revenue.

Josh Ostroff, interim director at Transportation for Massachusetts, welcomed the news but cautioned that the members “have their work cut out for them.”

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Howie Carr: No jab, no job edict infuriates some Massachusetts State Police

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Howie Carr: No jab, no job edict infuriates some Massachusetts State Police

When it comes to COVID-19, it wouldn’t appear that the Massachusetts State Police are asking for too much.

They just want to be treated like illegal aliens — you know, to have the right to refuse the vaccine, and then be allowed to go on their way, no questions asked.

But no, Gov. Charlie Baker is insisting that every trooper must be vaccinated by Oct. 17, or they’re gone. His way or the highway, so to speak.

According to sources, the governor Dementia Joe Biden calls “Charlie Parker” has mobilized a “COVID-19 team” of the MSP brass to knuckle the rank-and file.

“They’re saying they can grant a ‘limited number’ of religious exemptions,” one trooper said Thursday. “What if I said there were a ‘limited number’ of Muslim-approved meals in the lock-up? How would that fly?”

Maybe, after they’ve purged the MSP of its dissident members, the COVID-19 team can turn its attention to other pressing matters, like the issue of “slip ‘n’ slides” at the Academy, or those lingering questions about nepotism and cronyism in promotional exams.

Last week, a trooper went on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox. His name is Luke Bonin, from Troop D, and he’s a stand-up guy. If you google Bonin, you’ll see stories about how he rescued an abandoned American flag on I-195, and how he was photographed sharing a roadside meal he bought for a homeless female panhandler he spotted while returning from a court appearance.

He told Laura how “many of my colleagues are in great distress (and) many of us who are unvaccinated are very concerned for our jobs.”

How dare Bonin speak his mind! This looks like a job for the COVID-19 team.

Bonin could not be reached for comment.

But the question remains: Which trooper do you suppose Internal Affairs will hunt down first – Trooper Bonin or the off-duty guy in the video of the sidewalk brawl in Lynn last weekend, the one who’s yelling “Cuidado!” (Spanish for “be careful!”) at his fellow troopers?

The State Police Association of Massachusetts filed suit against the vaccine mandate, but like all these suits, it went nowhere. It was basically the union doing its union thing, and if you’ve ever been in a union, you know exactly what that means.

So now more than 300 staties and support staff — criminal analysts, crime lab scientists, dispatchers, etc. — have all chipped in $100 apiece to hire their own law firm to fight the mandates.

You would think Charlie Parker would try to stay on the troopers’ good side, especially after the way F Troop looked the other way when his son’s groping case at Logan Airport was allowed to be sent to the U.S. attorney’s office for a good leaving alone.

F Troop did a good solid for old A.J., wouldn’t you say?

But once again, the old saying proves to be true: No good deed goes unpunished.

“I voted for this guy,” one state trooper said. “It’s unreal how much he hates us. He absolutely hates us.”

Other employees in both the public and private sectors are offered an option: the jab or a weekly test. No such perk for the state cops.

Since the order, the staties have been holding meetings among themselves, often sponsored by SPAM. There was one at a VFW post in Chicopee, another in a function room at a Bridgewater golf club.

At one such gathering, a female trooper, eight months pregnant, emotionally talked about how she’d had trouble conceiving, wasn’t getting any younger, and was worried about both her unborn child and her ability to support him if she was fired by the RINO governor.

She finally folded and got the shot Thursday.

Some of the superior officers — lieutenants and above — are older, nearing retirement. They’re waiting until the last day — Oct. 17 — to see if Parker (or a non-corrupt state judge) comes to his senses and stops the madness.

“Baker was such a disaster from the very beginning,” the trooper says, “that now he’s overcompensating for how he screwed up everything. And we’re paying the price.”

After President Trump announced his support for Parker’s GOP opponent, Geoff Diehl, Baker brushed it off, saying he’s still working on the Panic. His remarks in Salem seemed a bit defensive, a valedictory of sorts — like he’d been a “wartime” governor who had to make the tough decisions.

Give us all a break, Charlie.

It’s one thing to be Winston Churchill in 1945, or even George H.W. Bush in 1992. But in this war, it was Charlie Parker’s insane mismanagement and overreaction that caused 100 times more damage than the actual virus itself.

Remember Parker’s numbers: third highest death rate among the 50 states for almost the entire panic, as well as the nation’s highest unemployment rate (for at least two months).

Someone must now pay for Charlie’s catastrophe, and it surely won’t be him. But it’s not just the State Police. They’re just the most visible employees of the Commonwealth.

In state agencies, the task of strongarming the recalcitrant workers is falling to the HR departments. And if they don’t nix enough of those dreaded religious or medical exemptions — well, the rumor going around was that one of the HR people at a state prison had been fired for insufficient terrorizing of the staff.

The governor’s son, A.J., could not be reached for comment on how he feels about his dad’s treatment of the State Police.

Listen to Howie from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on WRKO-AM 680.

 

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Patriots corner J.C. Jackson motivated to take over Stephon Gilmore’s role

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Patriots corner J.C. Jackson motivated to take over Stephon Gilmore’s role

FOXBORO — J.C. Jackson says not much has changed for him now that Stephon Gilmore is a Carolina Panther.

During a session with the media Thursday, Jackson said he’s ready to assume the mantle as the team’s top corner because that’s been his job all year.

“I still have the same mentality every day,” he said,” And that’s to compete and get better.”

While Jackson is now definitively the Patriots’ No. 1 corner, he doesn’t see himself in the same shutdown class as Gilmore.

“I’m still not there yet,” he said. “I still got work to do. … I’d never tell myself I’m there, so that’s what keeps me motivated. That’s what keeps me going.”

Jackson shared he was “shocked” by Gilmore’s trade to Carolina. Gilmore had been a mentor to Jackson since he arrived as an undrafted free agent in 2018. At this stage, though, Jackson feels like he can also be a resource for young corners, such as fifth-round rookie Shaun Wade.

“I’m at a point now where I can teach and show the young guys how to be a better version of themselves,” said Jackson. “If they have any questions, I got a little bit of experience. I can help them out any way possible.”

Asked about the biggest lesson he learned from Gilmore, Jackson pointed toward the former Defensive Player of the Year’s demeanor and how he attacked each week.

“Just the mentality he had to go out and compete every week, facing the No. 1 receiver,” said Jackson. “He never got too high, never got too low. He just stayed focused and competed every week.”

Did he view the Gilmore trade as a vote of confidence from the coaching staff?

“I don’t really know what the coaching staff thinks about that,” said Jackson. “I’m just really focused on myself and what I gotta do for the team.”

With Gilmore sidelined since December, first on injured reserve and then the Physically Unable to Perform list, Jackson has been in his role for almost a year now. He’s had a few ups and downs, but largely been effective when asked to mark the opposing team’s top receiver. Last Sunday, he did well limiting Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, and is now looking forward to his matchup with Houston’s Brandin Cooks.

He’s comfortable going up against the best.

“I know their talents, I love to compete,” Jackson said. “That’s how I look at it. It’s my opportunity, my chance to really prove and show who I am.”

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MIAA Wrestling Committee agrees season should run as normal in winter

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MIAA Wrestling Committee agrees season should run as normal in winter

Full steam ahead for the 2021-22 wrestling season.

After the sport was forced to settle for a shortened schedule in the spring due to COVID-19, it appears as though the sport will return to its normal slot in the winter.

The MIAA Wrestling Committee met Thursday morning and they were in agreement that the upcoming season should run as normal. That is a pleasant relief from last year, when the sport didn’t compete until the spring.

The one holdover from last spring is the very real possibility that wrestlers will be forced to wear masks. Wakefield athletic director Brendan Kent, the chairman of the MIAA Wrestling Committee, feels it is inevitable that it occurs.

“I know here at Wakefield High School, masks are mandatory in the building,” Kent said. “And volleyball players are required to wear masks right now because they are inside.”

In other news, the committee is still looking for venues in which to hold the divisional state tournaments as well as the All-State tournament. Burlington wrestling coach Paul Shvartsman suggested Massachusetts follow the lead of other states and look toward a professional venue to host the All-States. The committee is looking for someone to take over for Salem’s Scott Connolly as the Div. 2 tournament director.

There will be a different look in the weight classes starting in July 2023. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) agreed to allow states to select from one of three categories, whether they opt for 12, 13 or 14 weight classes.

The 12 different weight classes would be 108, 116, 124, 131, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 190, 215 and 285 pounds. If a state chooses to have 13 weight classes, they would be as follows: 107, 114, 121, 127, 133, 139, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285 pounds. The final option would be to keep things status quo and keep the 14 weight classes as presently used in New England.

“We are going to have to start talking with the other states to see what they are going to do,” Kent said.

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Ticker: Poker returning to MGM Springfield; US jobless claims fall

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Ticker: Poker returning to MGM Springfield; US jobless claims fall

Almost five months since the bulk of the pandemic-era restrictions were removed from the state’s casinos and slots parlor, things are ramping back up to normal with the impending return of a popular game and continuous hiring efforts.

Most of the action in recent weeks has been at MGM Springfield, state gaming regulators said Thursday. The casino held a large hiring event last week and offered jobs to 60 people, said Loretta Lillios, director of the Gaming Commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau.

The Springfield casino has also hired a poker manager and is staffing up on dealers as it prepares to reopen its poker room on Oct. 29 for the first time since March 2020, Bruce Band, the assistant director of the IEB, said.

“That’s been a subject since probably last March with us, so that will be good to see,” he said.

An MGM official said players can expect about 10 to 12 tables instead of the 28 that used to populate the casino’s poker room.

US jobless claims fall

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week, another sign that the U.S. job market and economy continue their steady recovery from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Unemployment claims fell by 38,000 to 326,000, the first drop in four weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Since surpassing 900,000 in early January, the weekly applications, a proxy for layoffs, had fallen more or less steadily all year. Still, they remain elevated from pre-pandemic levels: Before COVID-19 hammered the U.S. economy in March 2020, weekly claims were consistently coming in at around 220,000.

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St. Vincent nurses on strike can no longer get unemployment, may have to refund benefits to Massachusetts

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St. Vincent nurses on strike can no longer get unemployment, may have to refund benefits to Massachusetts

The St. Vincent Hospital nurses who have been on strike for seven months will no longer be able to collect unemployment and may have to refund some benefits to the state.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance has ruled that the striking nurses will retroactively have their unemployment benefits discontinued on Aug. 7. Any striking nurse who has collected unemployment for that week or since must refund that full amount to the state, according to a hospital spokesman.

However, the Massachusetts Nurses Association said it’s fighting the ruling from the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

“Despite this initial ruling, the MNA has appealed the decision,” said a spokesman for the union. “The nurses do not have to pay back any wages for August for the foreseeable future while the issue is under litigation.”

The Department of Unemployment Assistance made its ruling to cut off unemployment as the hospital at the start of August scaled back both inpatient and outpatient services.

That’s when the strike had surpassed 20 weeks and it had “become unsustainable to maintain all of the services” at the hospital, according to St. Vincent Hospital.

Now the strike is hitting seven months on Friday, and it’s the longest nurses strike in state history.

“We understand and are concerned that this decision may cause hardship for striking nurses,” a hospital spokesman said. “We believe the proposed contract, once ratified, will provide an immediate significant improvement in economic benefits that can help offset this hardship.

“Saint Vincent remains committed to ensuring every striking nurse who wants to return can do so,” he added. “We have offered reasonable and workable solutions to assist any nurse whose previous position may not be immediately available. … We continue to strongly encourage all striking nurses to return to work and call on the MNA to end this strike.”

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