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Maine Medical Center nurses will keep their union

MaineMed nurses.jpg
Patty Wight
/
Maine Public
Nurses demonstrate outside Maine Medical Center in Portland as they negotiate their first contract.

Maine Medical Center nurses in Portland have decided to keep their union following an effort to decertify it.

Nurses voted 1,108 to 387 in favor of keeping their union, meaning 74% supported unionization, while 26% were against it.

The Maine State Nurses Association says this week's vote surpassed the 14% margin in last year's vote to unionize.

The vote came after one nurse, who received free legal help from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, submitted a petition with 500 signatures to decertify the union.

The group has worked to decertify unions across the country and recently criticized the Maine State Nurses Association for failing to finalize a contract with hospital management over the last year.

But Lucy Dawson, an emergency room nurse and member of the union's bargaining team, said that's how long first contracts usually take.

"A lot of people don't realize that the first contract does take a long time to finalize, and so we're on track as far as a first contract goes," she said.

The union should finalize its first contract with the hospital in the coming weeks or next month.

"The nurses at Maine Med definitely want this union and want the protections that come along with it, and the voice that comes along with it," Dawson said.

The union has so far secured temporary agreements that will guarantee dinner breaks for all units and that will bring nurses more consistency with their schedules, she added.

Updated: August 19, 2022 at 1:57 PM EDT
This post was updated to include original reporting from Maine Public.