BURLINGTON, Vt.—Nurses at the University of Vermont Medical Center announced July 2 that they will go on strike for 48 hours July 12-14, three days after their three-year contract expires.
Members of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, which represents about 1,800 nurses and 300 health professionals, voted overwhelmingly early last month to authorize a walkout at the state’s largest hospital, and the union issued the 10-day strike notice after talks over the weekend proved fruitless. The union is asking for a 24% raise for nurses who treat inpatients over the three years. Salaries lower than those at other hospitals in the area, it contends, make it hard to recruit nurses to fill the average of 150 vacancies a year. The hospital has offered raises of 7.3% to 14.5%, but the higher number includes step increases nurses with less time on the job already receive, registered nurse Julie MacMillan, the union’s lead negotiator, told the Seven Days weekly. Hospital president Eileen Whalen told the Burlington Free Press that the two sides are “very far apart.” The hospital says it will hire nurses through an outside agency during the strike.