Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Around 45 nurse practitioners at a psychiatric hospital in Bangor have been granted the right to vote on whether to join the country’s second-largest educators’ union.

Some 111 registered nurses and nurse practitioners at Northern Light Acadia Hospital announced they had organized as Acadia Nurses United with the American Federation of Teachers, and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board in October.

The American Federation of Teachers, which boasts 1.7 million members across the U.S., also represents 200,000 nurses and other health care professionals as AFT Healthcare.

The nurse practitioner’s unionization effort has been granted the right to hold an election, according to a ruling from the NLRB released on Wednesday. A secret ballot will be held to determine whether they will form Acadia Nurses United, AFT, AFL-CIO.

Two petitions for recognition, representing a cohort of registered nurses and a separate cohort of nurse practitioners, were filed in October, according to Bob Potts, a spokesperson for Northern Light Acadia Hospital. The union effort withdrew the registered nurses’ petition after support lagged.

The Acadia nurses’ union effort came a month after the Maine State Nurses Association, the union representing 2,000 nurses at Maine Medical Center in Portland,  secured its first contract after 13 months of bargaining.

Members of Acadia Nurses United said they sought union recognition to negotiate for better care for their patients and to address hospital executives’ “failures to address safe staffing, recruitment and retention,” as well as a lack of communication and responsiveness to employees’ concerns.

“Together, we will empower one another to fulfill the extent of our licenses within each of our disciplines’ scope of practice,” the union’s mission statement read.

“We aim to take an active and affirmative role in developing policies and procedures that affect our patients, community, and all Acadia Hospital employees. We are determined to be treated with dignity and respect in an atmosphere that is based on fairness, collaboration, equality, and transparency.”

“We prefer a direct relationship with our employees and care teams, and will follow the appropriate process for an election,” Potts said in October.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misrepresented the division of Northern Light Acadia Hospital employees that have been granted a union ballot.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.