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Nurses union opposition group gains traction at Maine Medical Center

In April 2021, more than 1,700 of the 1,900 nurses voted in an election, and 57 percent of those who voted favored the union.

PORTLAND, Maine — There's a new effort by nurses at Maine Medical Center in Portland to get rid of the union that more than half of them voted for more than a year ago.

In April 2021, more than 1,700 of the 1,900 nurses voted in an election, and 57 percent of those who voted favored the union.

The union said its goal is to negotiate better working conditions and pay for the nurses.

Now, more than a year later, there's still no contract. But some nurses said they've seen some positive changes.

Others said they have not seen substantial change. And they have the legally-required support to vote on a petition to decertify the union.

Amy Lee is a clinical nurse on a medical/surgical floor at Maine Medical Center.

She voted against the union in 2021 and is one of at least 600 nurses who signed this petition, saying they want to decertify the union representing them.

But some nurses who support the union say they've seen "tangible benefits."

Meg Dionne, who voted for the union, works in the emergency department.

In February, she and others voiced concerns about violence in the workplace.

Now, she said the union has helped increase staffing in the department, added security, and travel nurses who specifically attend to psychiatric patients.

For about a year, the bargaining unit, made up of about 11 nurses, has been meeting with Maine Medical Center management to work out the details of a contract.

Some of the key points still under negotiation are increasing pay and "union security. The union has proposed that every nurse become a member of the bargaining unit — or pay fees the union sets. 

The union security clause would require the hospital to terminate any nurse who does not pay. Pro-union nurses said they feel confident they'll reach a deal.

There is one aspect these two sides agree on — the information going around about the union is murky.

In a statement, Maine Medical Center leaders said they are aware of the new petition to decertify the union, and they will continue to negotiate in good faith.

The nurses on the bargaining unit will keep meeting with hospital management to negotiate.

So far, they've met 28 times.

On Aug. 17 and 18, the National Labor Relations Board will hold in-person voting — where nurses can anonymously decide whether they want the union to stay or not.

The sides have not provided concrete numbers on how many nurses intend to vote for which side.

Union nurses told NEWS CENTER Maine a strike is a last resort, and they don't intend to do so right now.

They'd have to vote on if they want to strike or not before doing so.

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