Ambulatory nurses at hospital file to join union

About three dozen nurses hope to join colleagues already unionized.

Martha's Vineyard Hospital is located at 1 Hospital Road in Oak Bluffs. —Lexi Pline

Thirty-three ambulatory nurses at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday to join a union that already represents other health care workers at the hospital.

The nurses want to join the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses and health professionals in the state and third largest in the country. It represents more than 23,000 members in 85 healthcare facilities across the Commonwealth.

After the nurses approached the association, it made a voluntary recognition request of unionization to the hospital. The hospital denied the request, according to Joe Markman, associate director of communications for the union.

The federal board may schedule a hearing next week to decide whether to approve an election.
The hospital can respond to the board about the hearing, Markman said.

“We are looking to have a positive working relationship with MVH management and hope to come to an agreement about the terms of the election and therefore not need a hearing,” Markman said.

The board eventually decides the time and type of election, either in-person or mail-in, about four to six weeks after the hearing decision. The ballot will only ask, as a yes or no question, whether the voter wants to form a union.

If the ‘yes’ vote wins, the board will direct the hospital to bargain with the nurses over wages, hours, and working conditions.

Previously employed by a physician’s group that was acquired by the hospital, the nurses were not recognized “under the existing hospital RN collective bargaining agreement,” Markman said.

Other nurses in the hospital, affiliated with Mass General Brigham, unionized “a long time ago,” Markman said. The union already represents more than 60 nurses at the Island hospital.

“This can happen when a new practice is created in the years after [unionization],” he added.

Ambulatory nurses provide medical services to patients often experiencing mild conditions in an outpatient setting. They make diagnoses, collaborate with other healthcare teams, and educate patients on their condition.

The hospital acknowledged that their employees have the right to union representation through an election.

“We will follow the [National Labor Relations Board] election process in support of the federally protected right for employees to vote on whether to join a union,” the hospital said in a statement.

“We continue to believe that we can achieve the best results for our patients and staff by working together in direct and respectful partnership and it’s critical that decisions made on behalf of any community be made freely, fairly, and in a manner that allows for the careful and thoughtful consideration of the facts,” it added.


  1. MVH is under staffed including very few CNA’s.
    It is unsafe to have a skeleton crew when you never know when an emergency will happen.
    Upper management is always the benefactors of pay raises and bonuses. The actual working staff are keeping our family, friends and community members alive and well and or stable for the medflight or ambulance ride to another hospital on the mainland.
    Island residents deserve better for what they pay.
    Don’t chase away knowledgeable talented medical workers.

  2. I never understand why if you’re smart enough to be a nurse or a teacher you don’t think you can negotiate a fair wage for your work. It doesn’t make any sense.

    • It makes perfect sense. Unfortunately not everyone has a brain able to comprehend it.

    • Do you like to be well paid for your skilled labor?
      Do you think that the Island’s nurses are overpaid?
      Unionized people make more money.

      Are there unionized people in your line of work?
      Do they make more money than you?
      Have you come to your senses?

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