Nurses at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington voted to ratify a new three-year contract on Sept. 27. The nurses, who are members of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, spent several months negotiating for safe staffing and competitive wages at the hospital, but unsuccessful contract talks led to a two-day strike last July.
During their contract campaign, the nurses had the overwhelming support of the citizens of Burlington as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who called on the UVM board of trustees "to take a more active role in the contract negotiations between management and the nurses' union."
"This has been a long and difficult road for all of us, and we are proud of what we have accomplished," says Molly Wallner, the VFNHP bargaining committee's lead negotiator. "We have shown the hospital, our community and ourselves what we are capable of. We will always do what it takes to fight for our patients and the well-being of the community we live and work in.
"This contract is a clear reflection of our commitments to our patients," Wallner adds. However, our fight for safe staffing and prioritizing the best possible patient care is far from over."
The nurses plan to continue the fight beyond the hospital walls, says Wallner. "We are committed to moving forward pro-patient and pro-nurse legislation that supports safer staffing ratios and safer hospital conditions."
[Adrienne Coles/VFNHP press release]