CALAIS – Contract negotiations between the Calais Regional Hospital and members of the Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organization Committee continued Monday.
Registered Nurses (RN’s) joined Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS’s) and other community members for an informational picket by the front sign of the hospital.
“We wanted to educate the community of what is happening,” said Anne Sluzenski, an RN with Calais Regional Hospital.
Sluzenski said she’s been an RN at the hospital for more than a decade. She said the hospital has been in contract negotiations with RN’s and MLS’s since last August.
“We know the hospital has been in financial difficulty so the very first thing we did was offer to roll over our current contracts,” said Sluzenski.
She said an overwhelming amount of RN’s and MLS’s at Calais Regional Hospital are not happy with the new contract agreements the hospital is implementing.
“They are insisting that we take cut-backs, that they take benefits away from us,” said Sluzenski.
A press release from the Maine State Nurses Association states the protests come after RN’s and MLS’s learned Calais Regional Hospital had the best financial year in 10 years.
“One year of improvement where we only had half a million dollar loss doesn’t mean that our ship is where it needs to be to be financially solvent for the indefinite future,” said DeeDee Travis, VP of Community Relations for Calais Regional Hospital.
Travis says the hospital has already put these implementations in place for nonunion workers.
“The actions that we’re taking managing the hospital are actually working. They are moving us in the direction we need to go,” said Travis.
Sluzenski said patient care is still the number one priority of all staff members, but she and others worry about the future of patient care.
“When we can’t recruit and retain our staff because the hospital is insisting on these cuts, we’re not going to have them in the future,” said Sluzenski.
Travis said the hospital has put forth their final offer to the negotiating team, and is waiting to hear back.