UPHS-Marquette nurses vote to put option for second strike on table

Nurses at Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette (Mich.) have opened the door for another strike.

The nurses, represented by the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association, voted on April 20 and April 21 to authorize a potential strike. The strike authorization vote does not mean a strike will take place, but gives the bargaining team the ability to call a strike. If nurses decide call a strike, they would have to provide the hospital with at least 10 days notice.

UPHS-Marquette, which is owned by Brentwood, Tenn.-based Duke LifePoint Healthcare, has been in negotiations with nurses for about a year, and nurses have not had a contract since the most recent contract expired last July. Negotiations have been contentious at times, with nurses going on strike in October.

"Very little has changed since our first strike in October," said Scott Balko, RN, president of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. "Nurses still take the decision to strike very seriously, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our practice and the community that we serve."

According to Janie Klamerus, RN, bargaining team member, nurses continue to seek "fair compensation and safe working conditions."

UPHS-Marquette expressed disappointment about the strike authorization vote in a statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

"For months now, we have been dedicated to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of all parties, and this action by the MNA at this time is an unhelpful distraction," the statement reads. "We are not sure how a strike would serve anyone's interests. Regardless, we are continuing to work in good faith to finalize an equitable and responsible labor agreement."

Both sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table April 23, May 8, May 9, May 22 and May 24.



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