University of Vermont Medical Center nurses plan to serve the hospital on Monday morning with a 10-day notice of a two-day labor strike.
Keith Brunner, a spokesperson for the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, on Saturday announced a press conference at 11:30 a.m. Monday to reveal a “critical development” in contract negotiations. Prior to the press release, a UVM Medical Center nurse informed Seven Days that a strike notice will be served Monday. Brunner confirmed that Monday’s press conference is to announce that notice.
Tristin Adie, a nurse practitioner on the bargaining team, said the team voted unanimously on Saturday in favor of serving the strike notice. The bargaining team spent long hours at the table negotiating on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning before deciding that the union and the hospital were too far apart to reach a resolution, according to Adie. The law requires that nurses provide notice 10 days in advance of a strike, and an agreement could still be reached before a strike. But Adie does not think that will happen.
“I think there’s a very strong chance that we will end up striking,” said Adie.
Union members were informed of the decision via Facebook. Adie said members of the bargaining team returned to their units on Saturday and were met by coworkers who overwhelmingly supported the decision.
Adie said the union wants wage parity with nurses at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, which is a member of the UVM Health Network. The UVM nurses have maintained that their wages are not competitive, which has lead to short staffing and high turnover.
“If the hospital won't bring us closer to a competitive wage, then the crucial issue of safe staffing will never be addressed,” said Adie.
All-member meetings will be held on Sunday at the union office.
UVM Medical Center spokesman Michael Carrese emailed Seven Days Saturday evening.
"We had very serious discussions throughout the night and were at the table most of the day," he wrote. "We owe it to our community to keep working as hard as possible to reach agreement and avoid the disruption a strike would cause. We’re working with a federal mediator to keep the lines of communication open."
In a statement Friday, the hospital said, "In the event of a work stoppage, we will be prepared to continue providing care to our patients with as little disruption as possible."