Two months ago, I watched highlights of the inauguration ceremony from my hospital bed at Maine Medical Center in Portland after undergoing heart surgery. It wasn’t my first stay at the state’s largest hospital; however, it was the first hospital stay without any family. Like most Mainers who’ve been hospitalized during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was completely alone.

Hospitals are scary enough when you are with your loved ones, let alone when you’re by yourself, especially when you are hurting. Though I’ve always respected the doctors performing my surgeries or overseeing my care, it’s the nurses who’ve put my anxiety to rest, answered my questions and gotten me back on my feet.

The nurses at Maine Medical Center have had my back from day one. I know I’m not alone. In the face of an unprecedented and unrelenting global pandemic, nurses have been on the front lines, running toward danger while most Mainers stay safe at home. It hasn’t been easy, but nurses have been there for patients in the most difficult circumstances. Now, the nurses at Maine Medical Center are banding together so they can continue providing quality, compassionate and personalized care to every patient who walks through their doors. After all that these nurses have done for me, the least I can do is be there for them in their hour of need.

Like most workers looking to organize, the nurses aren’t asking for much. All they want is fair wages, better hours, safe working conditions and a seat at the table. They’re not alone. Workers across Maine and the U.S. are joining or forming unions because of the pandemic. It’s not about loving or hating your job or employer; it’s about having the power to speak out when things get tough and push back against policies that lead to burnout and high turnover rates. This is especially true for health care workers. The work may be essential, but workers aren’t expendable.

The pandemic has made the power dynamics in the workplace abundantly clear. By banding together, workers are better able to speak out and improve the health and safety conditions in their workplace.

For me, this isn’t political – it’s personal. It’s about standing up for the hardworking nurses who’ve been there for me and my family in my moment of need. For the corporate leaders at Maine Medical Center, this isn’t about money – it’s about power.


Throughout this union drive, the Maine Medical Center leadership has released statement after statement about how the hospital is a great place to work. They’ve touted wages, staffing ratios and working conditions. Their actions tell a different story. At the height of the pandemic, Maine Medical Center flew in an anti-union firm from Florida as a part of their union-busting campaign. This is the same anti-union firm that was brought in to respond to nurses organizing in Michigan. Maine Center then vaccinated these individuals ahead of Maine people. They’ve apologized, but the error in judgment is still concerning.

Recently, we’ve heard that the anti-union tactics have become increasingly more aggressive. It’s disheartening to see the leaders at Maine Medical Center so blinded by their bottom line that they reflexively dismiss reasonable demands from the people they claim to value – the individuals who keep their hospital running. If Maine Medical Center treats its nurses so well, then why are they so afraid of a union? Why are they spending millions of dollars to drown out the voices of their employees?

Throughout my life, I’ve watched corporations go to great lengths to retain power over their employers. It’s easier to keep folks in line when you control their livelihood. What we’re seeing at Maine Medical Center is upsetting and disappointing but not surprising.

Patients, like myself, take comfort in the care we get there because we know and trust the nurses who care for us. It’s the first-class care that Maine Medical Center has built its reputation on. Despite the tragedy and hardship of the past year, nurses haven’t stopped putting patients first. They deserve the right to advocate for fair wages, reasonable schedules and better safety protocols. By banding together to form a union, they’ll finally have the power to make sure they’re heard.

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