CALAIS, Maine —Union nurses overwhelmingly approved a new, two-year contract Friday with Calais Regional Hospital that includes wage increases, safe staffing provisions and shift limits.
“Our No. 1 priority was patient safety and health, and [the] ability to recruit and retain qualified, valued employees, and this goes an incredibly long way toward that goal,” said Vanessa Sylvester, spokeswoman for Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses United. “We basically have guaranteed patient safety with no nurse having more than five medical/surgical patients at a time.”
Other contract highlights include:
- Increased core staffing in the emergency department.
- A 4 percent, across-the-board pay increase over the two-year contract plus step increases ranging from 2 to 4.5 percent.
- No mandatory overtime and improved control for nurses over their schedules and use of earned time.
Sylvester said the tone of the contract negotiations was positive and productive from start to finish during the three-month process.
“We started bargaining in September,” she said. “Everybody was very positive about the settlement, and the nurses voted in favor of approving it overwhelmingly.”
“This new agreement shows the dedication and insistence on safe staffing at Calais Regional Hospital. This agreement is an inspiration to all nurses working at hospitals across the state of Maine,” said Cokie Giles, MSNA president, in a press release issued Friday afternoon.