Maine hospital restores nurses' paid leave benefits after 2-month contract battle

Portland-based Maine Medical Center has restored paid leave benefits to members of the Maine State Nurses Association after both sides reached an agreement on the issue, the Portland Press Herald reported Feb. 17. 

A hospital news release shared with Becker's said the agreement involves amending the union's existing collective bargaining agreement to include various paid leaves that were not addressed during contract negotiations in December 2022. This includes adding back paid parental, bereavement, jury duty, witness and military leaves. 

Under the deal, paid leave benefits will be retroactive to December so nurses who previously used personal time off or went unpaid to cover their leaves will be paid back or get their personal time back, according to Maine Medical Center. 

The hospital said the agreement also includes making some additional pay practices for specific nursing roles official and adding specific scheduling "perks" — benefits for nurses with seniority — for consistency across units.

"We are pleased to reach this agreement with union representatives to amend our contract," Maine Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Devin Carr, DNP, RN, said in the hospital release. "Coming together at the table to build on our success achieved during contract negotiations to address contract concerns is critically important, particularly as we are just beginning to administer our first contract."

Union members "are absolutely thrilled to have back our paid leave that we were always entitled to keeping, but that the hospital chose to take away from us," Mary Kate O'Sullivan, RN, Maine State Nurses Association union steward and member of the collective bargaining team, said, according to the Portland Press Herald. "We finally won it back without making any concessions.

"We're not going to forget the things that management does to us, but I think now they realize when they take things away from us, we're not going to stop fighting until we get them back."

The agreement comes after the union held a rally Dec. 21 to protest what members said was the hospital's illegal end to nurses' paid leave for bereavement, jury duty and military service.

The hospital argued that the paid leave was sunsetted when the nurses' contract took effect, and therefore not terminated. 

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