Workers strike at Ascension hospital in Michigan

Members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 40 began a three-day strike Sept. 11 at Ascension Providence Rochester (Mich.) Hospital. 

The union represents about 270 nurses and radiology technologists, according to The Oakland Press. The hospital is part of St. Louis-based Ascension.

Union members voted to authorize a strike earlier this year. The union and hospital have been at the bargaining table since 2022 under extended contracts, according to the union's website. Ascension, in a statement posted online Sept. 5, said the hospital has been bargaining in good faith with the union, and during a recent bargaining session presented a final offer to OPEIU that includes an RN wage proposal with an average wage increase of more than 19 percent in the first year of the contract, as well as a nearly 15 percent increase to the maximum pay rate. Ascension said the current radiology technologist wage proposal also includes an average wage increase of more than 19 percent in the first year of the deal. Ascension said the hospital would honor upcoming scheduled bargaining sessions, including one with registered nurses Sept. 11, the first day of the strike.

Union members contend there has been a lack of progress in negotiations. During bargaining, OPEIU Local 40 has specifically raised concerns about pay and staffing.

The union, on its Facebook page, said members specifically seek a staffing matrix and staffing committee; manageable on-call assignments; and competitive pay and retroactive pay to recruit and retain staff, among other asks.

"I am concerned when I have nurses saying that they have eight or nine patients each as their assignment. It's not safe for the patients and it's not safe for the staff," said Danielle Drouillard, a registered nurse in the pre-op department at Ascension Providence Rochester, according to the Detroit Free Press

According to the publication, Dina Carlisle, RN, president of OPEIU Local 40, also contends that the 19 percent raise proposed by management is not adequate to bring union members up to the level of other metro Detroit properties for the long term.

Given the strike, the hospital has contracted with a staffing agency to provide registered nurses and radiology technologists, Ascension said.

Ascension said the hospital is contractually required to commit to at least four days of work for any registered nursing and radiology technologist staff replaced. Striking workers will be temporarily replaced starting Sept. 11 and will be able to return to their scheduled shifts beginning the morning of Sept. 15.

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