When nurses’ contract expires, Michigan Medicine demands 101 concessions and refuses to grant increments

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The contract for 6,200 Michigan Medicine nurses expired at midnight Thursday without addressing the staffing crisis that has created intolerable working conditions and an unsafe health care environment for patients at the state’s fifth-largest hospital. Michigan.

Michigan medical nurses unload patient [Photo by Michigan Medicine]

No new agreement has been announced and the union has strongly opposed the nurses’ strike, saying it would be illegal.

On Friday afternoon, the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) and its local affiliate, the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (UMPNC), released a bargaining update stating that the union “hoped to bring you better news.” , but that Michigan Medicine was demanding 101 concessions from nurses in the new contract.

The union’s update further explained that hospital management was refusing to give the nurses their step pay increases due in July and were “instead maintaining the salaries we deserve”. Since Michigan law prohibits back pay for public sector employees, the MNA-UMPNC says management is holding pay increases over the heads of nurses “as a bargaining chip in the hopes that we will make concessions”.

As Michigan Medicine continues its provocations against nurses, the union is seeking to block any mass action to fight back. Prior to the expiration of the contract, the MNA-UMPCNC scheduled negotiations update meetings for Friday evening and announced briefings on July 16, one day after and more than two weeks after the expiration of the contract, respectively.

In the union’s announcement that nurses and supporters will picket around Michigan Medicine Hospital facilities in Ann Arbor on July 16, it says, “Now is the time to stand together and show the University of Michigan that we are ready to fight. He adds that “Nurses from MNA-UMPNC will be speaking to raise awareness about what is happening at our hospital and the actions of University of Michigan leaders.”

However, based on everything that has happened so far, it is clear that the real objective of the union leadership is to put in place a tentative agreement to sell off and have it ratified by the members before the July 16, so that no picketing ever takes place.

The MNA-UMPNC’s strategy has always been to make unnecessary appeals to the University of Michigan Board of Regents, especially its Democratic Party friends on the board, and to block any mobilization of nurse force in coordination. along with the rest of the hospital staff and other nurses in the state, all of whom face the same issues.

The day before the contract expired, a Michigan Medicine nurse who just finished a 12-hour shift spoke with a WSWS representative Healthcare Worker Newsletter on the fight against contracts and the need to ensure patient safety.

She said: “Hospitals are a business. It’s unfortunate. It really makes our job very difficult. I feel bad for patients and patient safety. Most nurses only care for patients. They’re not sitting here like, oh, I need higher wages for this and that. Rather, there are safety issues for patients. It’s basically a business – all healthcare is like that in the United States. It’s not just one place.

“The union almost split into different unions recently. Many people have lost faith in the union. I hope things will eventually change.

An indication of the nurses’ desire for mass action to win their demands can be found in the FAQ section of the MNA-UMPNC website regarding bargaining. Among the questions being asked are the legality of the strike and what will happen after the contract expires. According to the union, since Michigan Medicine nurses are considered public sector employees, a legal strike can only be called “to protest an employer’s alleged unfair labor practices.”

The union repeatedly said over more than three months that Michigan Medicine was bargaining in bad faith, but it made no preparations for an unfair labor practices strike.

Another question posted in the FAQ is “Has a ULP (unfair labor practice) work stoppage been requested? What is the difference between an information picket and a work stoppage? The union responded that the information picket “is not a work stoppage or a labor disruption.” We hope this sends a clear signal to management that we are serious. »

Showing once again its refusal of any decisive action to win the demands of the nurses, the MNA-UMPNC tweeted on Friday morning, “Day 1 without contract. Our contract expired at midnight and our nurses are speaking out. Because our consciences demand it.

The union then published a comment from a nurse in the newborn intensive care unit, who wrote: ‘Ask anyone. I like what I do. A deadly pandemic strikes. Short-staffed. The whole world is. Compulsory overtime? Sure. Once in a while, just in an emergency, right? Missing a nurse at 3 p.m.? Of course, I will come for 4 p.m. Just in case of emergency, right? Just once or twice, right?

“Ask anyone. I love what I do. Working 4 nights in a row. 12, 16, 16, 12. Sold out. But that’s just once or twice, right? Still understaffed at 11pm Ding, ding, ding, ding- the texts on my phone PLEASE HELP NEED NURSES But that’s just once in a while, right?

“Ask anyone. I love what I do. A deadly pandemic hits. 3 years. Always short-staffed. Hire, hire, hire. Teach, teach, teach. Always short-staffed. ‘S ‘PLEASE HELP. ANY CHANGES. OT MANDATORY IF THERE ARE NO VOLUNTEERS.’ Every shift Multiple nurses For three years Ding, ding, ding goes my phone But that’s just for emergencies, right?

“Ask anyone. I love what I do. Closing ICU beds because no nurses means no patients. But you could have nurses if you paid them better, right? no? No? Just close the beds? We’re working to the bone because we’re still understaffed? Well, okay. Babies sick, sick, sick. Sicker than we’ve ever seen. Do we deserve better? Now? No? Close more beds. Close beds to save money and save staff instead of treating staff as we deserve. But that’s just for emergencies, right?”

Nurses must recognize that they are fighting a battle on two fronts. One front is against the management of Michigan Medicine, which is concerned with the financial performance of the hospital as well as the colossal salaries of its management, not with the quality of care or the quality of working conditions and well-being. nurses. employees.

The other front is the battle against the union, which is linked to the leadership of Michigan Medicine and the University of Michigan through the MNA-UMPNC’s ties and support to the Democratic Party. While the nurses’ fight against Michigan Medicine’s push for a new concession contract has been going on since mid-March, the congressman didn’t even report on it until June 16, two weeks before the end of the contract.

Instead, the congressman was busy endorsing statewide Democratic Party candidates in the upcoming Aug. 2 primary election. Among the campaigns endorsed by the congressman during the contract fight at Michigan Medicine is the re-election bid of current Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who said she is for “a place of fair and safe work for our state’s healthcare workers so that Michigan residents can receive the best treatment possible.

This is a lie. Dana Nessel has not and will not lift a finger to support the struggle of nurses at Michigan Medicine or any other hospital in the state of Michigan. Nessel, along with Michigan Democratic Party Governor Gretchen Whitmer, are part of the big business political establishment that is deeply involved – with the endorsement of unions such as the MNA-UMPNC – in converting the whole of the healthcare industry into a vast financial market. -manufacturing operation for a handful of billionaire investors and their multi-millionaire top executives.

The first step for nurses to stop the hospital and the union from forcing a new sell-out deal is to demand an immediate strike vote and the adoption of a list of bargaining demands based on what the nurses and their patients need, not what management says or is. not affordable. The contract fight must be taken out of the hands of the pro-corporate union and a rank-and-file committee must be established to lead the fight as part of the growing movement of workers in all industries against concessions and attacks on fundamental rights.

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