Maine Medical Center nurses vote to join union

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

Nurses at Portland-based Maine Medical Center have voted to join the Maine State Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United.

The 1,001-750 vote took place during a mail-in election conducted over the last month, according to an initial count confirmed by the hospital April 30.

The unionization vote comes after nurses filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board Jan. 12 to hold an election.

Nurses in favor of unionization cite a desire to address wages and benefits, according to Maine Public, a network of TV and radio stations.

Nurses opposed to the union have expressed satisfaction with their current pay and benefits, Maine Public reported. 

Union President Cokie Giles, RN, praised the vote after ballots were tallied.

"It's a new day for nurses and patients across Maine," Ms. Giles said in an April 29 news release. "I am thrilled for my colleagues at Maine Med and for their resolve to win a collective voice for their patients and their community. And I look forward to working with you for a future of high-quality patient care for all Maine residents."

Janel Crowley, an RN in the neonatal intensive care unit who helped lead the organizing effort, told Maine Public more flexible staffing levels is among her priorities in negotiations.

Maine Medical Center — which does not support unionization — said April 29 it is reviewing the election results within the guidelines and the seven-day timeframe set by the National Labor Relations Board.

"We had hoped for a different outcome, as we believe that the best way for Maine Medical Center to remain the region's premier provider of medical care is to work directly with our care team members," Jeff Sanders, Maine Medical Center president, said in a news release. "We will continue to put the care of our patients and welfare of our care team at the forefront of our decision-making, including putting our core values of respect, integrity, excellence, ownership, innovation and being patient-centered into action."

The unionization campaign has been ongoing during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the campaign, 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 a March letter from lawmakers.

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