EMMC, Nurses Union Reach Agreement

05/04/2011

Bangor, ME – Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses United notified Eastern Maine Medical Center tonight that its membership has voted to ratify the one-year contract tentatively agreed upon at the April 28 bargaining session. The tentative agreement will be presented to EMMC’s Board of Trustees Wednesday, May 4 with recommendation from the bargaining team for approval. 

The agreement addresses some of the specific concerns expressed by the union, while preserving EMMC’s ability to respond to challenges with flexibility. It is aligned with the medical center’s needs, acknowledges some of the union’s areas of concern, and opens the door for further discussion about potential creative solutions outside of the contract, through the Professional Practice Committee, for example.

“This agreement is a result of compromise from both sides,” says Greg Howat, vice president of Human Resources and EMMC’s chief negotiator. “In the end, the union worked with EMMC to come up with creative ways to address their issues in the context of the current realities facing Eastern Maine Medical Center. It was a challenge, but it was achievable, this we always knew.”

There is no doubt this eight-month negotiation process has taken its toll on EMMC employees, nurses, and the communities we serve. “While this is good news, Eastern Maine Medical Center will not be celebrating this conclusion. These months of negotiation have done unwarranted damage to EMMC and this community,” observes Deborah Carey Johnson, RN, president and CEO. “Claims by the union regarding staffing, patient safety, and quality of care will not magically go away. Our reputation and the reputation of our nurses has been unnecessarily diminished. We have spent countless hours and dollars responding to the baseless claims and tactics of National Nurses United, and as a result our internal culture has been stressed. As we work to recover, I sincerely hope we have learned to address real local issues, advocate for our patients, and leave national politics to the politicians.”