Technical professionals continue hospital negotiations


Sawyer Loftus

Vermont Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals President Deb Snell steps away from the podium after a press conference Sept. 2, 2018. Negotiations with UVM Medical Center are still ongoing to improve the technical employee’s contracts.

Zoe Stern, Staff Writer

Hospital technical employees’ contracts are currently under negotation.

Following strikes from nurses in the summer of 2018, contract negotiations are taking place with the University of Vermont Medical Center.

The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, the nurses’ union, aims to raise the wages of its technical professionals, said Annie Mackin, communications strategist for the Medical Center.

This goal would help to  to retain employees, Mackin said.

Technical professionals, such as operating room technicians, require a certification, said Chris Gonyeau, a respiratory therapist and co-lead negotiator for technical professionals at the Medical Center.

Technical professionals fill numerous positions in the medical center, Mackin said.

“There’s health information management coders, dialysis techs, operating room techs, people who work all over the hospital,” she said.

Mackin said that the union represents 340 technical professionals.

The proposed contract includes a 9 to 26 percent increase in salary over three years and higher salaries for jobs that are harder to fill, Mackin said.

The negotiations are a continuation of the nurses’ fight for a fair contract, which began in late September 2018, the union press release states.

“Negotiations have been mostly based around the importance of patients since the increase in patients is causing a need for more employees,” Goyeau said.

Issues such as short staffing and adequate pay have been discussed in nursing classes, sophmore nursing major Leah Canavari said. There isn’t an easy way to deal with the issue, she said.

“Nurse-patient ratios have been an ongoing issue in the nursing profession. Higher wages are necessary to recruit and retain nurses and support staff,” Canavari said.

There have been three negotiating sessions so far, Mackin said. At each negotiation session, there are hopes of reaching a fair agreement, she said.

In these negotiations for technical professionals the hospital came with all their proposals, unlike other times where they have held their proposals until the end, Gonyeau said.

“The whole point of this is to provide quality affordable care for our patients and the community,” Mackin said. “Reaching a fair agreement will help us succeed in our mission. We can work together when we come to an agreement.”