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The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

Nurses Union Authorizes Strike At Calais Regional Hospital

A week after 37 members of the nurses union at Calais Regional Hospital signed a petition of no-confidence demanding that the hospital’s CEO be terminated, the union has voted to authorize a two-day strike.

Todd Ricker, lead labor representative for the Maine State Nurses Association, says the issues go beyond CEO Rod Boula himself. He says management wants to reduce union members’ paid time off and substantially increase their out-of-pocket insurance costs.

He says he would welcome further discussions in two negotiation sessions planned for this week, but would need some concessions.

“If the employer continues to be unwilling to do those things, the employees have made up their minds, and they’re going to go out on strike on Nov. 18,” Ricker says.

Calais Regional Hospital has been in bankruptcy for more than a year, and in its petition, the union says Boula has mishandled the hospital’s financial issues, eliminated vital services including the closure of the hospital’s obstetrics department in 2017 and has significantly lowered workplace morale.

In a statement, Calais Regional Hospital says management is “very saddened” that the union has decided to strike during the pandemic, but that it will remain open for essential services in the event of a strike.

Updated 3:25 p.m. with length of strike.