An infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital.

April 29, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

With a 57 percent margin, Maine Medical Center nurses voted to unionize. Tonight Speaker Ryan Fecteau responded to the breaking news:

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, in 2020 a record 13,000 Mainers joined labor unions. Now, nearly 17 percent of workers are represented by unions, up 3 percent from the previous year.

“Today is an important day for union organizing in our state. Congratulations to the Maine nurses who have organized and spoken. Throughout this difficult year, Maine people depended on the bravery of our frontline healthcare professionals. This vote ensures nurses’ voices will be heard on issues of safety in the workplace. This will only improve the quality of care Maine people will receive,” said Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Ryan Fecteau. “The margin of the vote today shows how seriously Maine Medical Center nurses took this organizing effort and how much this union means. Now that the votes have been counted, I expect management to respect the will of the workers. Now both parties can get to work negotiating a fair contract.”

The nurses have had the extra burden of taking care of patients during the pandemic. Many times they have been the only human contact dying patients have had during their last moments of life.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, our dedicated health care professionals have worked around the clock to save lives. They serve our state with acts of heroism every day and, like all working people, deserve the right and ability to advocate to improve their lives and livelihoods,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I congratulate the nurses at Maine Medical Center on their decisive vote to unionize and expect the management of Maine Medical Center to respect that decision so both sides can begin a productive contract negotiation.”

The management at Maine Medical Center opposed the measure, using union breaking attics earlier this year.

After nurses petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to join the Maine State Nurses Association last January, in response Maine Medical Center hired an out-of-state law firm. Their choice: Reliant Labor Solutions, who are known for fighting union efforts.

At that time, Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland urged hospital leadership not to spend patient money on union-busting tactics. “They went out, and hired one of the most expensive firms whose sole duty is to make sure that the nurses do not vote in a union.”