Union members and supporters at a press conference Monday morning announcing the strike notice
Updated 4:04 p.m.
With a week left until a nursing strike, the University of Vermont Medical Center has scheduled a bargaining session on Friday with its nurses' union. The time, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., was chosen after discussions involving both sides, according to Hospital spokesman Michael Carrese.
He sent out a press release Thursday announcing the session and stating the hospital administration’s hope that a strike might still be averted. The hospital has maintained that it will be prepared to provide quality care to patients in the event of a strike.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) waded into the fray Thursday, releasing a statement in support of nurses and announcing a joint press conference with the nurses' union on Friday afternoon.
“Nurses are the backbone of the UVM Medical Center," Sanders' written statement said. "They work day and night to treat our family members and to keep our community healthy. Patient care suffers when these dedicated professionals are not treated with respect and do not receive adequate compensation.”
The nurse’s bargaining team voted on Saturday to serve a strike notice Monday. Nurses are required by law to give hospitals 10 days advance notice of their intent to strike. If no agreement is reached, the nurses will strike on July 12 and 13.
Jason Serota-Winston, the union's vice president of organizing, said the nurses asked for another bargaining session after serving the strike notice. He said the union remains committed to getting a contract with fair pay that would create safe staffing at the hospital. Nurses claim low pay has prevented UVM Medical Center from keeping nursing positions filled, leading to unsafe conditions for patients. The union has asked for parity in salaries with nurses at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Correction, July 5, 2018: Due to a mistake in a news release from the hospital, an earlier version of this story misstated the reason that the negotiations were scheduled for Friday evening.