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Sault nurses ask federal board to investigate labor practices at MyMichigan

Courtesy Photo
Michigan Nurses Association
Nurses at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault at an informational in front of the hospital on March 12, 2024. The Michigan Nurses Association claims the hospital illegally surveilled the picket. MyMichigan says they're unaware of the details of these allegations and is being used as a distraction from the ongoing bargaining negotiations for a new contract.

A local nurses' union in Sault Ste. Marie has called for the National Labor Relations Board to investigate allegations of “unfair labor practices” at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault.

The announcement comes after the union and MyMichigan failed to reach a new contract agreement Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike. Now, a five-day strike is scheduled to begin at 6:45 a.m. on Monday, April 15.

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) alleges MyMichigan illegally threatened the local union president by serving her a subpoena for her cell phone and personal correspondence with federal investigators while she was attempting to file an unfair labor charge.

Nurses with the union also claim the medical center is bargaining in “bad faith” by changing rules so nurses aren't paid when they accidentally miss clocking in at the start of shifts.

“We are sick of MyMichigan executives treating us with disrespect and trying to intimidate us,” said Madeline Malysa, a registered nurse at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault. “Nurses are fighting back because we care so much about our hospital and the community. We won’t stand for how MyMichigan big-shots in Midland are trying to tear us down. They need to know they are not above the law.”

Courtesy Photo
Michigan Nurses Association
Nurses from MyMichigan Medical Center Sault at an information picket on March 12, 2024.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for MyMichigan said the medical center is unaware of the details of the MNA's allegations.

The spokesperson added the medical center is confident the MNA has no legitimate grounds to file any charge.

“It’s unfortunate the MNA continues its attempts to shift focus away from the fair and reasonable contract offer that MyMichigan has put forth for our nurses and the MNA’s refusal to give our nurses the opportunity to vote on it,” said the MyMichigan spokesperson. “Our focus remains on continuing to provide excellent patient care for our community.”

The local nurses’ union and MyMichigan have been operating without a new contract since the beginning of the year. It’s also the first contract negotiation since MyMichigan took over the Sault Ste. Marie facility in 2022, formerly known as War Memorial Hospital.

Several nurses have told WCMU the upcoming five-day strike is an effort to recruit and retain nurses with better compensation and benefits.

According to Ashley Dawdy, an emergency room nurse at the medical center, management told nurses to "get creative" when covering short-staffed shifts.

"There is such a propensity for things to go wrong very quickly in the emergency department,” Gawdy said. “Something small could escalate into things you weren't expecting. If you don't have the staff and resources to handle it, your outcomes are a lot more poor."

In its latest contract proposal, MyMichigan offered nurses an hourly wage bump from $37.00 to $44.77. According to the MNA, this figure still designates Sault nurses as the lowest paid in the MyMichigan network.

All patient care and services at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault will remain open during the nurses’ strike. Several nurses throughout the MyMichigan system are traveling to cover for nurses who plan to strike next week.

“A strike doesn’t change the proposal we have on the table, that we believe to be a more than fair increase in wages, and that will provide all of the nurses a significant increase in their compensation,” said Kevin Kalchik, the medical center’s president.

Editor’s Note: In the interest of transparency, we note that MyMichigan Health is a financial supporter of this station.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.
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