Mid-Michigan nurses to vote on call for strike

Nurses at two mid-Michigan hospitals could go on strike if they are unable to negotiate a new contract.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST
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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - Nurses at two mid-Michigan hospitals could go on strike if they are unable to negotiate a new contract.

Nurses at MyMichigan Alma and McLaren Central Michigan will hold strike authorization votes this week. If approved, it would give their union’s bargaining team discretion to call for a strike with 10 days’ notice.

“Personally, I’m very frustrated that it has come to this point. We’ve been at the bargaining table since November and unfortunately, we haven’t made the progress that we’ve wanted,” said Blaire Showers, an emergency room nurse at MyMichigan Alma.

Showers’ union is holding a strike authorization vote Wednesday, Jan. 25.

“We haven’t wanted it to get to this point, but we feel this is the only way to make our voices heard,” Showers said.

Showers said she believes MyMichigan Alma can do better for its nurses and the patients they serve.

“The proposal is just not very competitive. It’s not going to keep and retain nursing staff. It’s not going to compete with what nursing contracts have across the state. It’s not going to help us have safe staffing ratios,” Showers said.

Marita Hattem-Schiffman, FACHE, CPMSM, RYT, and central region president for MyMichigan Medical Centers in Alma, Clare and Mt. Pleasant issued the following statement:

We were surprised to hear of the vote to strike following our most recent negotiations this past Friday. We know our nurses and they are exhausted from these past few years. The sacrifices they made through the COVID-19 pandemic are ones they are still recovering from today. They deserve our deepest appreciation and respect. The not-for-profit health care as an industry is overall still very strained from the pandemic as well, especially in parts of rural America like central Michigan, making the challenges we face all the harder.

Nurses at McLaren Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant will hold their strike authorization vote Thursday.

Dave Jones, the marketing manager in charge of media relations for McLaren Health Care, issued the following statement:

It is unfortunate that Michigan Nursing Association (MNA) registered nurses (RN) decided to take a strike vote at McLaren Central Michigan, intending to take nurses away from patient care to strike for wages. The timing of this vote coincides with the difficult time that all hospitals have had in recruiting and retaining nurses during the pandemic and is not a coincidence. This is an unconscionable attempt by select union representatives to use the pandemic as leverage at the bargaining table.

McLaren respects and cares deeply about our nurses and team members on the frontlines and wants to provide them the security of a long-term contract. We have been bargaining in good faith with MNA since Fall 2022 and have made significant progress on the terms for a new contract, including reaching multiple tentative agreements. We have four additional bargaining sessions scheduled.

Despite this progress, MNA representatives are aiming to take nurses away from patients during a pandemic-era, putting our nurses’ salaries and livelihoods at risk through a strike. It is clear, in the hospital’s opinion, that based on negotiations this is an economic strike.

McLaren remains focused on the health and welfare of our patients, employees, physicians, and volunteers. Our hospital will remain open and fully operational during any possible MNA strike, should it occur. We have been preparing for the unfortunate possibility of the union taking nurses away from patients’ bedsides to walk a picket line. We are implementing a comprehensive strike plan to ensure minimal, if any, disruption for those receiving care or visiting our hospital during MNA’s strike. We have staffing safeguards in place to provide licensed, experienced temporary replacement nurses who will care for patients during the strike. We are prepared and committed to continually provide high-quality care for our community.

We remain committed to bargaining in good faith with MNA for a new contract that continues to provide nurses with fair, competitive wages and benefits and allows our hospital to care for patients.

Showers said it would be great to get what she calls a fair contract, and she’s willing to do her part to get it.

“We as a union are ready to strike if we need to,” Showers said.

A spokesperson for McLaren Central Michigan said the hospital will use licensed, experienced, temporary replacement nurses if a strike takes place.