Calais Community Hospital received notice of the Union’s intention to strike November 18 and 19. The hospital is very saddened that union members have chosen to strike at a time when we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic bearing down our on community. If union members choose to follow through with a strike, the hospital will remain operative. Essential services will be maintained; however non-emergent or elective services may need to be temporarily suspended. The CCH Swab and Send COVID-19 testing and pain clinic procedures are examples of such services that may have to be suspended during this two day strike.
Last year Hospital administration began developing a detailed plan to respond to a strike notice and is confident that essential hospital services will be able to continue as usual. Knowing a short strike is a common tactic of the union, we felt it was our due diligence to be prepared for this scenario. There is sufficient skilled non-union staff available to provide clinical services. If necessary, temporary skilled nurses and techs with experience covering services at striking facilities will be utilized.
We do not believe a strike will bring the parties any closer to agreement. We have just begun to negotiate with the Technical unit. Since August multiple dates were offered by the hospital to come to the table, but were only accepted twice by the union. The hospital offered 9 different days from August 21 to September 18 and every day from September 18 through October 16. The union agreed to meet only on September 18 and October 16. The union offered November 10 and 12 which the hospital accepted. In the meantime, the union provided a strike notice.
The only issues that have separated the hospital and the RN’s and Medical Technologists are health insurance and paid time off. We have offered the union the exact same health insurance and paid time off as is provided to every other hospital employee, including administrators. Market analysis shows our insurance and paid time off benefits are in line with other healthcare organizations. Yet, the union wants more.
This strike is at a time when our community need is high and we find it hard to picture how this choice is beneficial ‘for our patient’ or ‘patient safety’, which is a common theme misused by unions during health organization strikes – even when the dissenting issues are not based on safety. Sound financial management is beneficial ‘for our patient’ because it enables us to be able to continue providing high quality healthcare and keep jobs in our community.
The hospital has addressed concerns repeatedly and tried to make this a win-win situation. CCH Administration will continue to speak up for our patients and work for the best interests of our staff as a whole, not just the 17% who are represented by the union. We will not be deterred just because we do not agree whole heartedly with the union position or demands. We continue to offer opportunities to negotiate in good faith with the Maine State Nurses Union. Only together can we strengthen the hospital’s financial position so we can continue to provide great care to this community. Everyone at Calais Community Hospital is committed to providing high-quality, safe healthcare, from our medical professionals to our administrative staff to our volunteers. We ask that the Maine Nurses Association join us in putting our patients’ health and safety first.