Press Release

Machias nurses and technicians to hold two-day strike

Group photo of RNs and techs by the rally line along the Bad Falls bridge, Machias. Many signs, large banner "Safe staffing saves lives"

Health care workers at Down East Community Hospital to protest management’s refusal to address their concerns about recruitment and retention

Registered nurses and technicians at Down East Community Hospital (DECH) in Machias, Maine, gave notice to their employer that they will hold a strike for two days, starting at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30 to protest the administration’s refusal to address their deep concerns about recruitment and retention, announced Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (MSNA/NNOC) today.

This 10-days’ notice of their strike follows a nearly unanimous strike authorization pledge. Health care workers always give at least 10 days of advance notice to the hospital to allow for alternative plans to be made for patient care. DECH nurses and technicians have been negotiating since September 2023 for a new contract. Their contracts expired on Oct. 18, 2023. The technicians include certified surgical technicians, medical lab technologists/technicians, and cardiopulmonary and imaging technologists.

While progress has been made in some areas, key issues remain. The RNs urge management to invest in nurses and technicians and agree to a fair contract prioritizing workers from the community over temporary workers from out of town.

“Our nurses and technicians care deeply for our tight-knit community. Our patients are family,” said Berta Alley, an RN in the infusion clinic and DECH chief nurse representative and negotiator. “We are calling a strike because management refuses to offer competitive compensation to recruit and retain permanent staff to provide optimal patient care for our community. This hospital had a total gain in net assets of over $17 million between 2020 and 2022, they can invest in staff and keep our nurses and technicians in our community.”

  • Who:    Registered nurses and technicians at Down East Community Hospital
  • What:   Two-day strike for patient safety and a fair contract
  • When:  Tuesday, April 30, 7 a.m. to Thursday, May 2, 6:59 a.m.
  • Where: DECH, 11 Hospital Dr., Machias (across the street from the hospital entrance)

“The Hospital’s offer of a 1 percent increase is so disrespectful,” said Joelle Jackson, a medical lab tech and DECH steward and negotiator. “We are talking about nurses and technicians being able to afford to work at the hospital. That’s why we are fighting for a fair contract — so we can stay here and care for our community.”

“The Hospital is well aware of the recipe for success to recruit and retain staff,” continued Jackson. “The imaging department had been staffed completely by temporary workers who were not local, to being fully staffed by people who live in the community after the hospital and MSNA agreed to provide competitive wages for those positions.”

“We can’t provide the best care if we are taking time away from our patients to assist temporary agency nurses who are not familiar with our policies and procedures,” said Alley, “We’re simply not going to let that happen. This hospital means too much to us, our patients, and our community.”

The most recent Form 990s show that between 2020-2022 CFO Lynette Parr’s compensation increased by nearly $100,000 a year, or 48 percent, and CEO Steve Lail’s compensation increased over $100,000 annually, or by 37 percent, during that same time period.

Machias nurses and technicians held rallies in downtown Machias in late January in support of a fair contract.

MSNA represents nearly 50 nurses and technicians at Down East Community Hospital.

Maine State Nurses Association is part of National Nurses Organizing Committee, representing 4,000 nurses and other caregivers from Portland to Fort Kent. NNOC is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing labor union of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide.