Maine Medical Center nurses delivered lumps of coal to hospital president Jeff Saunders following termination of paid leave benefits
Maine Medical Center (MMC) nurses delivered lumps of coal today to MMC President Jeff Saunders following the hospital’s announcement late last week that it terminated nurses’ paid leave for bereavement, jury duty, and military service, announced Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (MSNA/NNOC). No other employees at MMC have lost these benefits to date and several MMC nurses report that managers told them these benefits are ending because they joined the union.
“I am sorry to report that the theft of these long-standing paid benefits from Maine Med nurses has already had a devastating impact on us,” said operating room nurse Katrine Fesmire.
Several nurses who are on bereavement leave were told they would not be paid for their time away as they mourn the passing of their loved ones. The termination of these paid leave benefits will make it more difficult and costly for any nurse who sits on a jury or who is called away for military service.
MMC management argues that these benefits have 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. It is unlawful because the nurses at Maine Med are already union members with MSNA/NNOC.
“As rank-and-file union members, we understand basic labor law and the concept of past practice,” said Medical-surgical nurse Mary Kate O’Sullivan. “How the hospital and its fancy corporate lawyers don’t understand these things is beyond me.”
At their press conference, nurses compared Maine Medical Center President Jeff Saunders to Ebenezer Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol.” They were also joined by Santa Claus, who helped them deliver lumps of coal to Saunders.
The Maine State Nurses Association represents 4,000 nurses and caregivers across the State of Maine.
MSNA/NNOC is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide.