Nurses at Michigan hospital authorize strike

Members of the Michigan Nurses Association have voted to authorize a strike at McLaren Lapeer Region Hospital.

The union represents about 250 nurses at the hospital, according to a June 1 news release from the MNA. McLaren Lapeer Region is part of McLaren Health Care, a Grand Blanc, Mich.-based health system with 28,000 full-, part-time and contracted employees.

All voting union members voted in favor of authorizing a strike, according to the union release. The vote does not mean a strike will occur. However, it gives the MNA the option of calling one. The union would provide a 10-day notice to McLaren executives before any strike begins.

Management has been in negotiations with the MNA for three months, according to the union release. Tim Vargas, McLaren Lapeer Region president and CEO, said in a statement shared with Becker's that the hospital is focused on bargaining for a fair and sustainable contract. 

Currently, the nursing contract has added benefits including market-competitive wages and benefits, shift differential and premiums, and on-call pay, he said.

"We have worked with the union prior to and during negotiations to ensure we have safe staffing, competitive wages and great working conditions," said Mr. Vargas. 

He added: "A strike is unnecessary to reach an agreement. The hospital has signaled its willingness to enhance wages, staffing and practice processes without any job actions, and is not asking for concessions from the union."

The union contends that the hospital is putting "profits before patients" and has not accepted nurses' proposals to have an accountability mechanism to ensure executives follow contractual staffing ratios. 

"We are fighting for the future of our community hospital," Chuck Johnson, RN, said in the union release. 

He added: "We are fighting for the right to be able to work under conditions that allow us to provide the highest quality of care to our neighbors, families and loved ones. We know that it's possible to make McLaren Lapeer better, and we won't rest until we've done so."

Negotiations are slated to resume on June 5. 

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