Maine Medical Center's nurses have beat back an effort to decertify their union.
In this April 27, 2022, file photo, Maine Medical Center nurses held an informational picket outside the Portland hospital. Credit: CBS 13

Maine Medical Center’s nurses have overwhelmingly beat back an insurgent effort to dismantle their union.

The nurses voted Wednesday and Thursday whether to decertify their union, and the pro-union contingent prevailed 74 percent to 26 percent, according to the Maine State Nurses Association.

The nurses union noted late Thursday night that exceeded the 14-point margin in the original vote to form a union back in spring 2021.

That vote came after a group of 500 nurses signed a petition to decertify the newly formed union over the protracted negotiations between the nurses and hospital management for their first contract, which has not yet been reached.

“We have been winning important improvements at the bargaining table over the past year,” said Jonica Frank, an operating room nurse and a member of the union’s bargaining team. “Nurses across the hospital are excited about everything we have won so far.”

Frank said the vote has clearly signaled the nurses won’t give up their union. The union hopes to reach a contract with Maine Medical Center in the coming weeks.

The group pushing to decertify the union were backed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes so-called right-to-work laws and backs efforts to dismantle unions, including most recently a Mayo Clinic nurses union in Minnesota in July.

“They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election. But we just showed them the door. The so-called ‘Right to Work Foundation’ is not welcome at Maine Med, and it’s not welcome in Maine,” said Mary Kate O’Sullivan, a nurse and bargaining team member.

Last year’s union drive was one of the highest profile victories for organized labor in the state in years. The nurses voted 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent to unionize, a decision that affected roughly 2,000 nurses at Maine Medical Center, the Scarborough Surgery Center and the Maine Med campus in Portland. An earlier union drive in 2000 failed to garner enough support.

The National Labor Relations Board in May 2021 certified the union as the bargaining representative for the hospital’s nurses.