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Sault nurses' union authorize another strike against MyMichigan

Nurses from the MyMichigan Medical Center Sault strike on the picket line on
Courtesy Photo
Michigan Nurses Association
Nurses from MyMichigan Medical Center Sault marching in a picket line on Monday, April 15, 2024, in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

After a 5-day strike in April, unionized nurses at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault may be going on strike again.

The union announced Friday that members have overwhelmingly given their negotiators the power to call an indefinite strike just a few days ahead of their next round of negotiations for a new contract.

The authorization comes after 17 rounds of negotiations between the Michigan Nurses Association and MyMichigan Health, who have been operating without a contract since the beginning of the year.

In a release, the MNA said the main reason for the strike authorization is the turnover among staff that is "to the point of sometimes compromising patient care.”

“MyMichigan has not proposed any real changes to their contract. They continue to propose a contract that is not going to recruit and retain nurses,” said Alexis Laaksonen, an emergency department nurse at the hospital.

In addition to staffing issues, benefits and pay are points of contention between the two parties.

“Our insurance premiums increased. We're no longer allowed to have our spouses on our insurance if they are offered insurance through their workplace," Laaksonen said. "We do not make the same wages as the nurses that are at other MyMichigan facilities.”

Spokesperson Millie Jerzior wrote in an email that MyMichigan has negotiated in good faith and have offered an average salary increase of $10,000, with some nurses receiving a $16,000 wage increase in the latest contract proposal.

"The MNA continues to not move from its original stance," Jerzior wrote. "In a commitment to our community, it is our responsibility to carefully balance a fair wage increase for our nurses with what is needed to pay all staff fairly, maintain our facilities, replace critical equipment and maintain the critical services our community deserves."

MyMichgian Medical Center Sault will remain fully operational if the nurses decide to issue a 10-day strike notice. Nurses and hospital administrators return to the bargaining table on June 19.

Editor's note: MyMichigan Health is a sponsor of WCMU. We report on them as we do with any other organization.

Ellie Frysztak is a newsroom intern for WCMU.
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