UVM Nurses Plan To Strike July 12 And 13

Jul 2, 2018

Union nurses at the University Of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington plan to go on strike next week if they're unable to reach a contract agreement with the hospital.

On Monday, union representatives notified the hospital they intend to strike on Thursday, July 12 and Friday, July 13.

Julie MacMillan is lead negotiator for the union. She said nurses do not have confidence in the hospital's leadership.

"This is meant to be a warning that we are serious," MacMillan said. "We were hopeful that they would have heard us many months ago, but they're not hearing us."

At issue are wages and staffing levels. Union nurses allege pay at the hospital is not competitive with other nearby medical facilities, resulting in a shortage of nurses on staff.

Tristan Adie, a nurse practitioner at UVM, said care providers at the hospital are overworked.

"It means that when we go home at night, we're working well past our allotted hours," said Adie. "We're working in the morning before we come into work, we're working during our lunch hours, we're working on weekends, and we're still not staying caught up."

The union is seeking a 24 percent wage increase over a three-year contract.

According to a statement from the hospital, it is offering a 13 percent wage increase over the same time frame, with higher increases for certain types of caregivers.

In the statement, hospital president Eileen Whalen said "we are very disappointed" in the union's decision to give a strike notice. Whalen added that if a strike does happen, the hospital will be ready to provide care to patients with "as little disruption as possible."

The sides have been negotiating since March.

The nurses' contract ends on Monday, July 9. If a contract isn't worked out after the two-day strike, a union representative said it will be up to the membership to determine whether more strikes occur.