BAR HARBOR — Registered nurses at Mount Desert Island Hospital will gain a five percent pay raise over the next three years, according to the terms of a contract ratified by an “overwhelming” majority April 28, said a representative with Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MSNA/NNU).
Step raises in pay, frozen for about one third of the hospital’s approximately 66 union nurses during stalled contract negotiations over the past year, also have been restored under the terms of the new contract. Hospital officials have committed to following through with step raises for all nurses through the contract period, Sylvester said.
Other benefits include firm protections for health insurance plans and improvements in scheduling and job postings, she said.
The ability of the nurses to hold out and push for what they believe is right was lauded by MSNA president Cokie Giles in a press statement.
“Great job to the MDI nurses bargaining team and membership. It’s been a hard-fought win for you all,” Giles said. “The other MSNA nurses thank you for your persistence in fighting for your patients and your community. MDI nurses stood by the issues that ultimately impact the public health of the community.”
Issues such as patient safety, input on decisions and technology improvements that the nurses also had advocated for might not be addressed directly in the contract, but Sylvester said she is hopeful that the negotiation process has created better processes for addressing such issues.
“We hope that the experience will be a good step toward better communications and more input on issues that affect registered nurses and patients,” she said.
Hospital spokesman Oka Hutchins said Tuesday that the contract reflects the high quality of nursing at MDIH.
“We are grateful that our entire organization over the past year worked diligently to position itself financially so that we could succeed in putting forward a contract that honors the dedication, experience and compassion of our invaluable nurses and protects and preserves the viability of MDI Hospital and the high standard of compassionate care on which our patients and our community have come to rely,” she said.
The yearlong process of moving from one contract to the next was tough to go through, but in the end, the nurses and their union are stronger for it, Registered Nurse Doris Plumer said.
“I feel happy. I feel like we’re stronger, and I feel like we’re leaving the younger nurses with a much stronger union,” she said.