UVM Medical Center

VT Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and UVM Medical Center Reach New Contract

New contract for nursing employees includes substantial wage increases, runs through July 9, 2024.

Group of UVM Medical Center nurses posing together

Burlington, VT – The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals’ membership has voted to ratify a new two-year contract for UVM Medical Center nursing staff. The contract includes substantial wage increases agreed to in February, in advance of full contract negotiations, and numerous other increases and enhancements.

“We are proud of this contract, and worked really hard to make it meaningful for our nursing staff,” said Peg Gagne, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at UVM Medical Center. “Nurses are essential to patient care and they really have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic and the current health care challenges. This contract will continue to move us toward our shared goals of improving recruitment and retention, and bringing stability to our nursing workforce.”

In February, the union accepted a proposal by the hospital to increase nurse salaries by 10%, months in advance of the October date when any increases would have otherwise gone into effect during a typical bargaining year. The agreement also included an additional 5% salary increase in October 2022 and another 5% increase in October 2023.

Negotiating one part of a contract separate from the rest is an atypical approach to bargaining. Both UVMMC and the VFNHP cited a desire to accelerate the timeline for increased nurse pay in light of rapidly rising inflation and national labor shortages.

In addition to base wage increases totaling 20% over 20 months, the new contract includes ratification and retention bonuses, increased on-call pay and differential pay, and other important measures.

In later sessions, a mediator provided by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service assisted in moving the talks forward.

The new contract goes into effect as the UVM Health Network, along with all hospitals in Vermont and others across the country, faces significant financial challenges. These challenges are largely driven by expense inflation related mainly to the cost of temporary labor and wage increases to support the fulltime workforce, as well as equipment and supplies; and revenue shortfalls. A strong nursing contract holds the potential to enhance recruitment and retention of nurses to UVM Medical Center – driving cost savings by reducing reliance on expensive temporary labor.

“This is a difficult time for our organization financially, but we must continue to invest in all of our employees as they are our strength,” said Stephen Leffler, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer of the UVM Medical Center. “We are pleased to get this contract signed and will continue working together to provide the highest quality care to our patients and community. We hope the Green Mountain Care Board, as well as our state and federal leaders, will support our efforts to stabilize our finances and chart a sustainable path for the future.”