A group of protesters gather outside a hospital.
Maine Medical Center nurses held an informational picket on Wednesday. The nurses said they’re fighting for better working conditions at the Portland hospital. Credit: CBS 13

Maine Medical Center’s nurses are calling for better working conditions as they negotiate their first union contract.

The vote to unionize was made a year ago this week but the nurses have yet to see a contract after eight months of negotiations. They picketed outside the Portland hospital Wednesday morning.

“Having a good solid contract is going to keep nurses here. It’s going to keep nurses invested in our community instead of them always having to look for the next best paycheck,” nurse Jason Huchel said.

Nurse Heather Emmons said they want a safe staffing ratio to ensure the nurses can give “appropriate, quality care.”

“We’re here and we’re unified, and we want a great first contract and the only way to get that is to stand together,” nurse Jonica Frank said.

In a statement, Maine Medical Center called its nurses “among the best in the nation,” saying it is committed to ensuring the hospital is a great place to work and receive care,

“MMC is committed to bargaining in good faith and working toward a contract that is fair to the nurses as quickly as reasonable. There have been 20 bargaining sessions to date and negotiations are progressing on the schedule agreed to by both parties,” the hospital said.

Nurses planned to host another picket from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.