Trinity Health hospital workers go on strike

Members of Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan went on strike Aug. 4 at Trinity Health Grand Haven (Mich.) Hospital.

The union represents about 200 workers. Trinity Health Grand Haven is part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health.

Union members previously authorized a strike. The union and hospital began negotiating a new labor contract about seven months ago, according to Fox 17. Trinity Health Michigan, in a statement shared with Becker's, said there have recently been "numerous complaints of intimidation, bullying and harassment by union supporters against our hospital colleagues."

The statement added that at least 30 percent of current union colleagues filed a petition July 31 with the National Labor Relations Board requesting an election to vote on whether to remain part of the SEIU. 

"In light of this news, we decided to pause further negotiations," Trinity Health Michigan said. "We will respect whatever the colleagues decide in a fair election, overseen by the NLRB, and resume negotiations if necessary."

The union said on its Facebook page that its members seek competitive wages, safe staffing and quality patient care. It contends that Trinity Health Michigan has engaged in bad faith bargaining and violated workers' rights, according to news station WWMT. Specific allegations the union is making include pressuring workers to sign anti-union petitions as well as promises of employee benefits if workers support the decertification petition.

"It's clear that Trinity Health is more focused on violating workers' rights rather than solving problems and coming to an agreement on a fair contract. We cannot recruit and retain staff at our hospital until Trinity raises wages that are competitive with what other West Michigan hospital workers make. We are ready to strike [Aug. 4] and demand that our rights are respected," Erin Dexter, an ultrasound tech at Trinity Health Grand Haven, said, according to WWMT.

Trinity Health Michigan said Trinity Health Grand Haven is well prepared for the strike and that all necessary services at the hospital, including the emergency department, will remain open during the strike. Trinity Health Michigan also said the hospital is prepared to provide fully staffed EMS services and has arranged for assistance from Trinity Health Muskegon EMS. 

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