UPHS-Marquette nurses plan October strike

Nurses at Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette (Mich.) plan to strike Oct. 5-6.

The announcement came Friday from the Michigan Nurses Association, which represents the workers.

"We have said all along that striking is an extremely serious decision for nurses. We want to be at the bedside caring for our patients. [The hospital's owner, Brentwood, Tenn.-based] Duke LifePoint [Healthcare] has made it all but impossible to provide the care that the Marquette community deserves," said Scott Balko, an operating room nurse and president of the UPHS-Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. "We still have four bargaining dates and mediation scheduled before our strike. Now is the time for Duke LifePoint to do the right thing for patients — guarantee safe RN staffing levels and a hospital environment that will attract and retain nurses for years to come."

In response to the planned strike, UPHS-Marquette said in a statement to Becker's it "will continue to bargain in good faith; however, should it occur, we are fully prepared to handle a strike and ensure there is no interruption in care for our patients and community members."

"We are securing fully-qualified staff to replace those who go on strike and are attending to every detail in preparation for this event. As always, delivering quality care and services to our patients will remain our primary focus, and we will not allow anything to stand in the way of providing the best for our community," the hospital added.

Duke LifePoint expressed similar sentiments in a statement to Becker's, saying, "We are aware of the strike notice that UPHS-Marquette received today from the Michigan Nurses Association. We know that the hospital will continue to negotiate in good faith with the MNA in an attempt to reach an agreement. Should a strike occur, we are confident the hospital is prepared to manage it while ensuring its patients and community continue to have access to high quality, compassionate care."

The MNA said in a news release it has been in contract negotiations with hospital management for about five months. Nurses' two-month contract extension expired in July.

Amid these contract negotiations, UPHS-Marquette nurses called for a patient safety investigation at the hospital. UPHS-Marquette nurses voted to authorize a strike at the end of August.


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