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Unionized Nurses Strike at EMMC Update 

Wayne Harvey

Nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center are back to work Tuesday.Monday, they were on the picket line.The nurses say they want to keep this issue in the public, and they did so dressed for the weather outside the hospital to begin their one day strike.Unionized nurses gathered along state street before sunrise and stood with their signs amid the falling snowflakes, all to get their message out to those who went by.” We have no question that we’re doing the right thing we know when we’re short staffed,” said EMMC Nurses Union President ” We know when we need extra help, we know when charge nurses are taking too many patients, and to have the public respond to us in this manner we know that we’re doing the right thing.”Eastern maine medical center administration says they have a mission to provide safe and quality care, no matter the circumstances.” We have an obligation to the community that no matter what happens even if our own nurses decide to withhold their services as leverage for bargaining that we still have to fulfill our mission so we’re pleased with what’s going on and frankly we hope that there’s not another strike but you really can’t predict that,” said Greg Howatt Human Resources Director at EMMC.But come seven am Tuesday, the nurses will put away their signs, put on their scrubs and go back to work.” They are having us herd in to the backside of the cafeteria at seven o’clock in the morning and in their words, they will deploy us to our nursing areas. I guess several groups at a time,” said Brown.” We’ll have our patient assignments and patient handoff from one nurse to the next with our leadership nurses.” said Paul Bolin Director of Employee Relations at the hospital. ” The replacement nurses will be leaving at the same time that the returning nurses will be coming back to the floor so we want to avoid that awkwardness so the two groups don’t have any situation where anyone is uncomfortable.”The next round of negotiations is set for monday the 29th, and neither side is certain of how this lockout and strike will impact those contract talks.” This is never about wages never has been, it’s always been about trying to get some sort of agreement that will help us with staffing we’ve narrowed down proposals to try to make baby steps and in an attempt to be flexible and we need some flexibility on the other side,” said Brown. ” Meet in the middle is not what is going to solve this. I’ve told people compromise is often the right thing to do, but we believe strongly that we’re standing on principle,” said Howatt.