Lawmakers to Maine Medical Center: 'Fire union busters,' let nurses vote freely

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More than 60 Maine lawmakers have written to Maine Medical Center President Jeff Sanders, accusing the Portland-based hospital of attempting to discourage nurses from unionizing and demanding that it stop, Beacon reported March 15. 

Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau were among the legislators who signed the March 12 letter shared with Becker's.

Lawmakers wrote that nurses have talked "about being accosted in one-on-one anti-union meetings, dragged from patient care to listen to out of state anti-union consultants lecture them on why they should vote no for the democratic right to negotiate with their employer; and threatened by certain supervisors that they stand to lose benefits, or employment if they vote yes in the upcoming election." 

The hospital disputes the allegations. 

In a March 14 statement the medical center said it "understands the need for some politicians to reflexively support all union organizing drives, but respectfully disagrees with the assertions made in the letter." 

The hospital hired Reliant Labor Consultants, which describes itself as a "labor and employee relations consulting firm that is dedicated to helping its clients sustain their direct relationships with their employees and avoid the many significant problems that arise when work groups are organized." 

In February, hospital officials admitted they erred in January when they offered COVID-19 vaccinations to representatives of Reliant Labor Consultants. That decision was criticized in the letter from lawmakers.

The lawmakers called on Maine Medical Center "to fire its union busters and take action to ensure that nurses at the hospital are able to vote freely and without Maine Med administration's interference."

The letter from lawmakers comes after registered nurses at Maine Medical Center filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board Jan. 12 to hold an election to join the Maine State Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United. The union told Becker's an election is scheduled for 2,000 nurses, and ballots will be mailed out at the end of March.

The hospital said it has supported employees before and throughout the pandemic by giving them personal protective equipment, job and wage protections, absorbing increases in medical insurance costs and by providing market pay adjustments. 

During the organizing campaign, Maine Medical Center said it has consistently urged nurses to learn about their lawful rights and encouraged eligible workers to vote. 

"Allegations that nurses would face retribution for exercising their rights are false. At no time have nurses been intimidated, threatened, mistreated by Maine Medical Center or has patient care been" in jeopardy, the hospital stated. 

Read the full article here.

 

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