Maine Medical Center RNs successfully fight termination of leave benefits

Submitted by ADonahue on
Large group of Maine Medical Center nurses ouside hospital holding press conference

Nurses deliver lumps of coal to hospital president

By Staff Report

National Nurse Magazine - Jan | Feb | Mar 2023 Issue

Maine medical center (MMC) nurses in February successfully won back paid leave benefits after a two-month campaign that included delivering lumps of coal in December to hospital president Jeff Sanders after the hospital’s announcement that it terminated nurses’ paid leave for bereavement, jury duty, and military service. No other employees at MMC had lost these benefits to date and several MMC nurses reported that managers told them these benefits were ending because they unionized with Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (MSNA/NNOC).

“We are absolutely thrilled to have back our paid leave that we were always entitled to keeping, but that the hospital chose to take away from us,” said Mary Kate O’Sullivan, a medical-surgical RN. “We finally won it back without making any concessions. This is a clear testament to the power of the nurses when we act collectively.”

Several nurses who are on bereavement leave were told they would not be paid for their time away as they mourned the passing of their loved ones. The termination of these paid leave benefits had made it more difficult and costly for any nurse who sits on a jury or who is called away for military service.

MMC management argued that these benefits ended because they are not specifically mentioned in the newly ratified union contract between nurses and the hospital. However, it is illegal for the hospital to make unilateral changes to current benefits, whether they are specifically stated in the union contract or not, because nurses at Maine Med are already union members with MSNA/NNOC.

At their press conference, nurses compared Maine Medical Center President Jeff Sanders to Ebenezer Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol.” They were also joined by Santa Claus, who helped them deliver lumps of coal to Sanders.