The National Labor Relations Board on Thursday certified ballots cast by medical interpreters at MaineHealth, who overwhelmingly voted to form a union. Credit: Courtesy of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

After a Thursday vote count, 29 employees that make up the interpretive staff at MaineHealth have overwhelmingly shown support for forming a union.

The medical interpreters, who work to translate more than 10 languages for patients of all backgrounds, filed for a union vote on April 24. A mail-in ballot was counted by the National Labor Relations Board Thursday, with a final tally of 29-0 in favor of a union.

“As interpreters facilitating communication between our patients and providers, we are also advocates, health system navigators, and cultural brokers,” the interpreters said in a statement. “By forming our union today, we will make sure that our jobs are sustainable for ourselves and for interpreters who follow in our footsteps.”

The medical interpreters, who will join the Maine Service Employees Association, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989, are the second group of MaineHealth employees to form a union.

“MaineHealth is reviewing the union elections results within the guidelines set forth by the National Labor Relations Board. If the NLRB certifies the results, we will begin bargaining in good faith with Local 1989,” MaineHealth said in a Thursday afternoon statement.

In September 2022, roughly 2,000 nurses at Maine Medical Center ratified their first union contract after more than a year of negotiations with administration.

Under the three-year contract, all union members will see a 7 percent wage hike in the contract’s first year, with 4 percent gains in both its second and third years, for a 15 percent total rise in wages during its duration, according to the Maine State Nurses Association, which represents the Maine Med workers.

Additionally, the contract includes guaranteed breaks and mealtimes, guaranteed safe floating practices, minimum orientation times for newly graduated nurses, an independent committee to deal with patient safety and other issues, and an end to mandatory rotating shifts, according to the union.

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.