Registered nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) have reached a tentative three-year contract agreement with the hospital, featuring breakthrough staffing language, the Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (MSNA/NNOC/NNU) announced on September 17, 2018.
If approved, the deal, which covers 872 nurses at the hospital, would run through September, 2021.
“We are so proud that nurses stood together with the community, to achieve this major victory for our patients and our colleagues,” said Cokie Giles, RN, bargaining team member and President of MSNA/NNOC/NNU. “We did spend many days at the bargaining table, but the real work was done by nurses organizing in their departments and in our community: to raise awareness, to find consensus on our priorities and to press management to seriously address our issues in negotiations. We are confident the improvements in this new contract, once ratified by the nurses, will directly benefit our patients.”
RNs say a recent candlelight vigil brought nurses and community members together, showing solidarity and setting the stage for winning the new tentative agreement, which features strong protections for patients and RNs, including language protecting the role of the “charge nurse.”
“The charge nurse is responsible for coordinating the unit, so we are critical to patient safety,” said union bargaining team member and relief charge nurse Karen Greenlaw, RN. “We must be available to lead our teams, mentor newer nurses and handle crises as they come up. Our new language ensures that we can protect our patients and be the vital resource that our teams need.”
The tentative agreement also features economic gains to keep up with inflation, and protections for nurse benefits—all of which help strengthen the recruitment and retention of experienced nurses for the community. In addition, the tentative pact protects the “complement unit” system that EMMC nurses have fought for and won over several contract cycles.
“The complement unit provision in our contract makes sure that our patients receive care from nurses who are trained and experienced to meet their specialized needs,” said Dawn Caron, RN, bargaining team member and Chief Union Steward at EMMC. “This is one of the foundational principles of our union contract. We always have and always will fight to protect our patients by keeping this system in place.”
The nurses, who have been in negotiations since May of this year, will vote on the agreement September 21.
MSNA represents 2,000 nurses in the state of Maine. NNOC/NNU represents over 150,000 RNs nationwide, and is the largest and fastest growing union of RNs in the nation. NNU has won landmark health and safety protections for nurses and patients in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence protection.