Contract Dispute Continues Between Nurses Union And UVM Medical Center

Jun 6, 2018

Union nurses at University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington are meeting Wednesday to consider the latest contract offer from the hospital. The union and the hospital have been in contract negotiations since March.

Nurses are seeking a boost in wages and more nursing staff at the hospital. The nurses' contract expires July 9.

Unionized nurses at UVM Medical Center say they're disappointed by the approach taken by the hospital's administration in ongoing contract negotiations.

Jason Serota-Winston, vice president of the nurses' union, said members may also move towards authorizing a strike vote. But, he said going on strike is not their goal.

"The goal is to get a good contract that meets the needs ... but we also have to be able to have a real bargaining session," Serota-Winston said. "And so far I would characterize the treatment from our administration as take it or leave it."

In response, UVM Medical Center spokesperson Michael Carrese said the administration has been at the table for all bargaining sessions, and he said the negotiations can be successful if the sides use a mediator.

"That's worked the last three times," Carrese said. "And then, you know, that will produce an agreement that everybody thinks is fair and supports our nurses and allows us to provide ... really good patient care."

Nurses say wages at UVM Medical Center are lower than some area hospitals and staffing levels are not sufficient.

Carrese said the hospital is offering a boost in wages — though not as high as the union is seeking — and he said that the hospital has also filled 700 nursing and support positions since the fall of 2016, with 120 of those being new positions.

The sides are working to schedule more talks before the contract expires in about a month.