Porter Hospital and nurses union reach agreement on contract

MIDDLEBURY — Porter Medical Center  administrators and representatives of the nurses’ union announced on Wednesday they had reached a tentative deal on a three-year contract for nurses.
Terms of what would be the first-ever contract for Porter nurses were not included in a brief press release issued by Porter spokesman Ron Hallman on Wednesday. More details will be available after the union members officially ratify the pact, according to Hallman.
That ratification vote is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 22.
“We are pleased and gratified to have achieved this tentative agreement after many months of hard work by the negotiating teams from both sides and we look forward to moving forward together to continue the essential work of our organization to provide outstanding health care services to our patients and our residents,” Hallman said. “We entered these negotiations with a set of guiding principles which included maintaining a respectful process, ensuring that our agreement was fair to all staff and financially responsible to the organization and, above all, that it focused on our joint desire to keep our patients and our mission at the center of the agreement.”
Hilary Hatch, a Registered Nurse at Porter and member of the nurses’ bargaining team, also praised the agreement.
“After many long months of discussion, investigation and thoughtful consideration, the Porter Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals has achieved a milestone marking the beginning of a new era for nurses and patients at Porter Medical Center,” Hatch said. “It’s a great day for all of us. We look forward, as well, to continuing our work together and promoting high quality patient care and the best nursing practice.”
It was late last year that Porter Medical Center nurses voted to unionize. The negotiated contract will cover the more than 140 full- and part-time nurses who work at Porter Hospital, Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, and the network of around a dozen physicians’ offices affiliated with Porter Medical Center. Nurses have cited concern over staffing levels and a desire to become more involved in Porter Medical Center operations, as well workplace issues like continuing education, professional advancement, comprehensive orientation for new nurses and recruitment/retention of personnel.
Hallman said the agreement came after a “marathon” negotiating session that began early Monday morning and concluded more than 24-hours later, at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
Editor’s note: This story was updated to add the date of the ratification vote.

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