Michigan Medicine nurses OK option to strike

Nurses at Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike.

The vote, which took place from Sept. 10-16, covers more than 5,700 nurses represented by the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council, a Michigan Nurses Association affiliate. It does not mean a strike will take place. However, the union has the authority to issue a 10-day strike notice if it chooses.

"Our goal is not a work stoppage," said Katie Oppenheim, RN, chair of the nurses council. "Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing.  The university can remedy this situation immediately, by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith."

On Sept. 11, nurses filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan Medicine over First Amendment rights. Nurses also filed various unfair labor practice charges with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, alleging the health system engaged in bad-faith bargaining; changed work shifts without notifying or negotiating with the nurses council; and discriminated against nurses, according to the union.

Mary Masson, Michigan Medicine spokesperson, told Becker's the health system is disappointed in the strike authorization vote. 

Ms. Masson said the health system considers a strike by public employees a violation of state law, and Michigan Medicine will take legal action to prevent a work stoppage.

"We have been bargaining in good faith since January and have offered a competitive package," she said.

Michigan Medicine leaders will bring in temporary nurses to replace striking employees, defer and reschedule select procedures and make staff scheduling adjustments as needed, if there is a strike, Ms. Masson said.

Michigan Medicine's latest contract offer includes a compensation package of across-the-board increases of at least 3 percent and a competitive paid maternal/parental leave program, she said.

As far as staffing, Ms. Masson cited Michigan Medicine's No. 5 national ranking on U.S. News & World Report's 2018-19 honor roll, which she said is partially representative of the health system's nurse-to-patient ratios.

More information about contract negotiations is available here.


More articles on human capital and risk:

San Francisco nursing facility workers protest, say staffing shortage is hurting patients
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Michigan Medicine nurses file federal lawsuit as potential strike looms

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