MACHIAS, Maine — Nurses and hospital technicians at Down East Community Hospital in Machias are holding a "Rally for a Far Contract" in order to protest what they're calling mismanagement and unfair compensation.

The nurses union says it has been negotiating a new fair contract with hospital administration for several months now, but the hospital "isn't budging."

Down East Community Hospital CEO Steve Lail says a fair offer was made and the nurses chose to reject it.

The nurses want to be paid more. Registered nurse Berta Alley says they're not being offered a competitive salary and therefore can't recruit or retain nurses. The result is that the nurses are working short-staffed and can't offer their patients the best possible care.

"We feel like the patients suffer," says Alley. "We can't retain nurses. The nurses go to other hospitals." 

"We're taking a stand for our patients. That's what we're doing. We're not going to sit back and let them make us work in these kinds of conditions. We think our patients deserve better and our community deserves better."

Alley says the nursing issues have become more pressing recently because Down East Community Hospital is serving more people. 

"This hospital has seen more and more patients because Calais Regional has closed some of its departments. So we're busy and we're feeling the strain from it, but we're not being appreciated for it." 

Alley emphasizes, "This is more of a patient safety issue. Because of the [lack of] recruitment and retention of our nurses, we're working short-staffed more and more every day."

The Rally we be held on July 18, 2019 from 5 to 7 pm at the Machias Dike. The nurses say the Dike was chosen as the location because it gets more foot traffic than the hospital and the rally is about raising public awareness on this issue.