University of Vermont Medical Center nurses authorize 2-day strike

Unionized nurses at University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington voted for the option to call a two-day strike, according to a Burlington Free Press report.

The vote, which covers nurses represented by the Vermont Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, Local 5221, comes amid contract negotiations.

Nurses contend hospital officials have failed to adequately address issues important to them such as working conditions, pay and staffing levels, according to the Free Press. Julie MacMillan, RN, the union's lead negotiator, specifically claims retaining nurses has been an issue due to what nurses see as relatively low wages and challenging working conditions at the hospital.

"We are very hopeful that by conducting this vote we're making a strong statement we are serious," Ms. MacMillan told the Free Press. "We want to work out a deal, but they need to hear us now."

The strike authorization vote does not mean a walkout will occur. It means the nurses now have the option to issue a 10-day strike notice to the hospital. 

Medical center spokesperson Michael Carrese said last week the hospital is committed to ensuring it can continue to provide "high-quality and safe care to patients" in the event of a strike, according to the report. Hospital officials are prepared to bring in temporary replacement staffing.

 

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