A Bangor organization called the Workers Rights Board of Eastern Maine (WRB) has reached out to both Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) and its nurses in an effort to bring them together to resolve their ongoing labor dispute. Last month, WRB sent letters to EMMC and its nurses inviting them to a “Public Forum on Staffing and Health Care Quality at EMMC.” The forum is scheduled to take place at the Bangor Public Library on April 25, 2011. At the forum, nurses themselves will have the opportunity to engage in a public dialogue about patient safety and how the ongoing labor dispute affects it.
In WRB’s letter to EMMC, it reported some information that the nurses provided to it. According to the nurses, EMMC has spent over $60,000 on advertisements disparaging the nurses. It has also retained an expensive law firm with a reputation for union busting. WRB said that it is “troubled by the use of patient care dollars, which presumably include state and federal tax funds, being spent on fighting the nurses.”
On April 8, 2011, EMMC responded to WRB’s invitation to this forum and said that it did not plan to attend. In its response, EMMC did not dispute that it has hired a union busting law firm or that it has spent $60,000 in advertising to disparage the nurses. EMMC’s response also states that the nurses’ national union is pursuing a “national agenda” in Bangor with no “willingness to help find solutions to a very complex set of realities.” The WRB forum sounds like an opportunity for the actual nurses to communicate with EMMC management about these “complex” realities. For that reason, it remains unclear why EMMC has refused to attend.