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Friday, September 28, 2018

UVM Medical Center Nurses Ratify Three-Year Contract

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 10:31 AM

Lead negotiator Molly Wallner, right - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Lead negotiator Molly Wallner, right
University of Vermont Medical Center nurses have ratified a three-year contract that ends a testy labor dispute, their union and the hospital announced Friday morning.

"This has been a long and difficult road for all of us, and we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished," said Molly Wallner, lead negotiator for the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. "We have shown the hospital, our community, and ourselves what we are capable of. "

The agreement gives nurses a 16 percent salary increase over the next three years. Some nurses will get raises of up to 30 percent.

Roughly 1,100 of the 1,800 nurses in the union cast votes, Wallner said, and 70 percent of them favored ratification. Negotiators had reached a tentative agreement on September 19.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Union Claims Howard Center Tried to 'Stifle' Federal Investigation

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 2:14 PM

Union members in July - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Union members in July
The union representing Howard Center workers filed a formal complaint Monday accusing management at the social services agency of “coercive statements.”

The AFSCME Local 1674 made the allegations in a signed complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body that enforces labor law and collective bargaining agreements.

The complaint was filed ahead of contract negotiations scheduled for Tuesday between Howard Center management and union representatives. The union represents more than 700 Howard Center employees.

In a statement, union president Matt Callahan said Howard Center management discouraged staff from cooperating with a board investigation.

“The most serious of these charges addresses attempts by Human Resources to stifle a NLRB investigation into a charge recently filed by a terminated probationary employee,” Callahan wrote. “Here we assert that Human Resources and Management cannot and shall not order Union workers to refuse to cooperate in Labor Board investigations.”

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Lead Labor Negotiator for UVM Medical Center Nurses Resigns

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 6:46 PM

Julie MacMillan, center, with labor leaders - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Julie MacMillan, center, with labor leaders
Updated on Monday, August 27, 2018.

Julie MacMillan, the lead negotiator for the University of Vermont Medical Center nurses, stepped down from that role Friday, saying union leaders asked her to resign.

MacMillan announced her decision in a public post on Facebook. MacMillan sat at the bargaining table with hospital administrators throughout lengthy negotiations since July, when the nurses went on strike for 48 hours. They have since been working without a contract.

After the hospital's August 18 offer of a 15 percent pay increase over three years, she "felt that we had not only made great strides, but had potentially reached a compromise," she wrote in the post.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

University of Vermont Medical Center Stops Collecting Nurses' Union Dues

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 6:45 PM

Deb Snell (left) and Julie MacMillan at a press conference with Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: SARA TABIN
  • FIle: Sara Tabin
  • Deb Snell (left) and Julie MacMillan at a press conference with Sen. Bernie Sanders
As the University of Vermont Medical Center and its nurses' union hash out a new contract, the sides continue to operate under the terms of the old pact, which expired July 9.

But at least one policy has changed: The hospital no longer collects union dues from nurses' paychecks.

Under the previous three-year contract, the hospital collected dues automatically from members' biweekly paychecks and passed the funds along to the union. That agreement became "null and void" when the contract expired, according to UVM Medical Center spokesman Michael Carrese.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Burlington City Council Urges Nurses, Hospital to Settle Their Differences

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 11:06 PM

Nurses on strike - FILE: SARA TABIN
  • File: Sara Tabin
  • Nurses on strike
Figure it out.

That was the Burlington City Council's message to the University of Vermont Medical Center administrators and nurses who are divided on wages and working conditions.

The council unanimously passed a resolution Monday urging the two sides to find common ground after the nurses' union went on strike for two days last week. The nurses returned to work on Saturday without a contract, but have not yet returned to the bargaining table, much less come to an agreement with the hospital.

The nurses' union could strike again, though it would need to provide a 10-day notice to the hospital.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

UVM Medical Center Nurses to Return to Work Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 8:01 PM

Nurses rallying outside the hospital - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses rallying outside the hospital
Nurses will start work as usual Saturday morning at the University of Vermont Medical center after a 48-hour strike. But their union has said another strike is not off the table as it remains at odds with the hospital over a three-year contract.

Members of the 1,800-member union walked off the job Thursday complaining that low wages have led to staffing problems. The union is seeking roughly a 23 percent wage increase for registered nurses over three years.

The hospital's chief operating officer, Eileen Whalen, called the union’s request “unrealistic” at a press conference Friday afternoon. Hospital spokesman Michael Carrese said it would cost $30 million over three years.

Meanwhile, the two-day strike cost the hospital about $3 million, according to Whalen. Much of that went to paying for nurses from out of town to cover for the strikers.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Nurses Picket as Strike Starts at UVM Medical Center

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 10:46 AM

Nurses were up early to rally outside the hospital. - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses were up early to rally outside the hospital.
Updated at 5:30 p.m.

The nurses' union at the University of Vermont Medical Center officially went on strike at 7 a.m. Thursday.

A sizable crowd of nurses, most wearing red shirts and holding signs and cups of coffee, gathered outside the hospital’s main entrance by 6:10 a.m. The group cheered as more colleagues joined them. Some talked among themselves about the disappointing end to negotiations with hospital management, which refused to meet nurses' contract demands. The union has complained about short staffing and said the hospital must increase compensation to attract more nurses.

Keith Brunner, a union spokesperson, said nearly 1,300 nurses had signed up to picket during the strike. Union leaders addressed the crowd with words of encouragement at 7 a.m., and then the medical center workers split up into three groups based on nursing units to picket at different hospital entrances.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nurses, UVM Medical Center Agree: Patients Should Feel Free to Cross Picket Line

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 5:11 PM

Nurses demonstrating across from the hospital - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses demonstrating across from the hospital
The University of Vermont Medical Center and its nurses' union can agree on one thing — patients should still feel comfortable entering the hospital amidst a nursing strike planned for Thursday and Friday. The union and hospital still do not agree on nursing wages and were scheduled to engage in a last-ditch bargaining session Wednesday afternoon.

If the two sides do not reach a resolution, union members and supporters will rally and then picket starting at 6 a.m. Thursday on public property surrounding the main hospital. More demonstrations are expected at the hospital's other campuses, including Fanny Allen in Colchester, Essex Adult Primary Care and a dialysis center in St. Albans.

The hospital and the nurses’ union have both stressed that picketers outside the hospital want to raise awareness for the union and will not prevent patients or healthcare providers from entering the hospital. No entrances to hospitals or hospital parking lots will be blocked by picketers, and patients can expect to attend appointments without fear of harassment.

“We would never interfere with patients or patient care in any way,” said Samira Lawson, a UVM Medical Center registered nurse and member of the union’s bargaining committee. “Our goal is for patients to feel safe and feel like they can come to the hospital.”

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

UVM Medical Center Cancels Some Surgeries Ahead of Planned Nurses' Strike

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 4:51 PM

The hospital's chief operating officer Eileen Whalen (center) and Dr. Isabelle Desjardins at Tuesday's press conference - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • The hospital's chief operating officer Eileen Whalen (center) and Dr. Isabelle Desjardins at Tuesday's press conference
The University of Vermont Medical Center has postponed 68 elective procedures that require complex surgical teams in advance of a nursing strike planned for Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 13.

Chief medical officer Dr. Isabelle Desjardins said at a press conference Tuesday that patients were contacted and given the option to reschedule their surgeries for later in the month. Emergency medical care will still be available 24-7 and outpatient services will continue as normal, according to Desjardins.

Nearly 600 temporary nurses are currently in Burlington receiving two days of training before the union work stoppage. Desjardins said there is no cause for concern about patient safety during the strike.

Samira Lawson, a member of the nurses' union bargaining committee, disagreed.

"If they were really not concerned, they would not cancel any surgeries," she said after the press conference.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Contract Talks Yield No Breakthrough for Nurses, UVM Medical Center

Posted By on Sat, Jul 7, 2018 at 9:08 AM

Nurses at a honk-and-wave rally outside the hospital - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses at a honk-and-wave rally outside the hospital
Updated at 6:45 pm.

No deal was reached during Friday night negotiations between the University of Vermont Medical Center and its nurses, and less than a week remains until nurses plan to strike. On Saturday, the union and hospital both released statements announcing that bargaining will continue Monday and Tuesday afternoons without a federal mediator.

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