Ascension nurses in Michigan move closer to strike

Members of the Michigan Nurses Association at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo have given their bargaining team the ability to call a strike.

The union, an affiliate of National Nurses United and the AFL-CIO, announced the decision Dec. 7, saying 86 percent of voting members voted in favor of the resolution.

Union members have been in negotiations with hospital management, and their last contract expired Nov. 11. The strike authorization vote, which took place Dec. 5 and 6, does not mean a walkout will occur. A 10-day notice would be provided to the hospital first.

"Our goal is to make sure that our next contract will put our hospital in a strong position to be able to retain experienced nurses and provide safe staffing on every shift," Lori Batzloff, RN, a nurse and the president of the local Michigan Nurses Association bargaining unit at Ascension Borgess, said in a news release. "Our No. 1 priority as nurses is to always be able to provide the highest quality of patient care."

In a statement shared with Becker's, the hospital said it has "presented proposals to Michigan Nurses Association that are fair, responsible and address the issues they have brought forward. We remain focused on negotiating in good faith and optimistic that we will soon reach a mutually beneficial agreement on our RN contract."

The Michigan Nurses Association represents about 13,000 nurses and healthcare professionals in Michigan. Ascension Borgess is part of Ascension, a nonprofit system based in St. Louis. 

Negotiations between hospital management and the union are scheduled to continue Dec. 8.

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