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EMMC Nurses Contract Talks Stall Again 

Close to two months after union nurses and hospital management at Eastern Maine Medical Center last met, both sides say they are still no closer to a contract agreement.Negotiations resumed on Monday with the help of a federal mediator.A number of key issues are still on the table, including staffing levels and health insurance.The 825 union members have been working without a contract since September.In November, they went on a one day strike.Since then, the Maine State Nurses Association has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the hospital.”The only thing we were offered today by management was one language change, and it was a couple of changes of a couple of words,” says Jen Kadel, a registered nurse and member of the nurses bargaining team. “And that’s really hard for us to handle, because we still have all of our major topics on the table.””Today was not a day that we’ll remember as making great progress,” says Greg Howat, Vice President of Human Resources at Eastern Maine Medical Center. “We’ve explored all of the open issues and attempted to assess since December 8th, the last time we met, and what has changed. And the clear indication is, not much has changed.”The two sides will meet with a federal mediator again on February 28th.In the meantime, the Maine State Nurses Association is implementing what they call a “patient watch.”They’re asking folks to share their stories or concerns about all hospitals in Maine.