Nurses’ union, hospital reach contract deal

BAR HARBOR — Nearly 70 registered nurses who have been working without a contract for nearly a year have reached a tentative agreement with Mount Desert Island Hospital administrators.

Maine State Nurses Association representative Vanessa Sylvester told the Islander that the tentative agreement came during a joint meeting with a federal mediator on Friday.

“The nurses feel that this tentative agreement not only moves forward economically but, importantly, addresses our concerns about respect and patient safety,” Sylvester said.

Friday’s meeting was a result of an outreach effort by the federal mediator, who contacted both sides after a nearly unanimous vote of the hospital’s nurses April 6 to authorize a potential one-day strike, Sylvester said.

Hospital public affairs officer Oka Hutchins said Tuesday that administrators were pleased with the tentative agreement.

“We are confident that the agreement addresses the long-term needs of our staff and the hospital community, and allows us to focus on continuing to provide the quality, compassionate healthcare our community has come to expect,” she said.

MDI Hospital nurses have been working under the terms of their expired contract since June 2014. Negotiations with hospital administrators stalled out last spring, with nurses stating that their concerns over technology and patient safety were not being taken seriously. Hospital administrators claimed that the divisive issue was largely money.

Nurses’ union representatives have said recently that along with their concerns of not being heard, they were experiencing random freezes in pay. Nurses said that they were pushing for reinstatement of across-the-board step raises at the rate of two percent a year.

Nurses are set to vote on the proposed three-year contract at a meeting at the hospital on April 27. Sylvester said that she expects it to be ratified, and that more details will be available at that time.

“We are very confident it is going to pass,” she said.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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