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McLaren Central Michigan nurses approve strike authorization

University of Michigan Health-West Nurses
University Of Michigan Health-West
Courtesy Photo
University of Michigan Health-West Nurses

Nurses at McLaren Central Michigan and hospital administration will return to the bargaining table next week, after the nurses’ union voted Thursday to approve an authorization to strike.

Contract negotiations between McLaren Central Michigan and their nursing staff began in September. However, after multiple meetings, negotiations stalled.

Christie Serniak, a registered nurse at McLaren Central Michigan and a union member, said nurses are still hopeful they can reach an agreement.

“We still have four dates scheduled to negotiate,” Serniak said. “So, we're hoping that within those four sessions, we can come to an agreement, a tentative agreement that we can vote on as a unit.”

According to Serniak, in the face of a worker shortage, recruiting and retaining nurses is vital to ensure patient safety.

“Our bottom line is just to finalize a contract that falls within the competitive market and allows us to recruit and retain nurses so that we can provide safe staffing,” Serniak said.

Although they have reached common ground on some terms of the contract, Serniak said there is still things to clear up.

“We have made some progress,” Serniak said. “There are some tentative agreements, with negotiations on particular articles, but we still feel like their latest offer isn't sufficient in the current climate. And the fact that for the last few years, or a couple of years, we've been dealing with a pandemic, which further exacerbated staffing issues. Whether it be hospital conditions or just healthcare conditions as a whole, it was really stressful.”

In a written statement, hospital officials say they’re not surprised by the strike authorization and are hopeful an agreement can be reached during the upcoming negotiations.

Hospital's statement:

It is not surprising that MNA-represented registered nurses at McLaren Central Michigan voted to authorize the union to strike today. The union is using common bargaining tactics to try to pressure the hospital at the bargaining table. We are committed to bargaining a new contract that provides value to our nurses and is fair to our community hospital. We will not let such antics detract us from our goal. To that end, we have already implemented the initial phases of our strike preparedness plan to ensure continuation of quality healthcare without interruption.

Our focus continues to be providing high-quality care during a difficult time in healthcare. Despite the significant financial challenges and volume declines, we have made offers to invest in our nurses with competitive wage increases to address recruitment and retention issues. Although our nurses at McLaren Central Michigan have some of the best nurse-to-patient ratios in the state, we have worked with the union prior to and during negotiations to ensure we have safe staffing, competitive wages and great working conditions.

Currently, the nursing contract has many added benefits, such as market competitive wages and benefits, shift differential and premiums and on-call pay, just to name a few. As we have seen significant reductions in our reimbursement, losses in revenue due to census drops and challenges in the labor force, we must ensure that we reach a contract that is fair and sustainable.

Our contract proposals to the union are market-competitive that amount to an average of 15% increases over the course of 3 years. Below are just a few of the highlights from our offer:

· 15% wage increases over 3 years.

· $1,000 ratification bonus

· Increases in premiums and shift differentials

We plan to continue bargaining on January 30th and 31st, as well as February 9th and 10th. We are hopeful that these next four bargaining sessions can provide the time we need to reach an agreement.

Sean Chase is from Newaygo, Michigan. He is a senior at Central Michigan University pursuing a journalism degree.