UPHS nurses talk decision to strike

MARQUETTE–Nurses at UPHS-Marquette hosted a sign-making party Thursday afternoon in preparation for their upcoming 48-hour strike. The nurses are calling on Duke LifePoint to ensure safe RN staffing levels in every department and on every shift.

“On one hand, it’s sad that we have to do this, on the other hand, it’s really encouraging to know that you’re not alone in this situation – that you’re not alone in feeling like you’re overwhelmed and overworked – that it’s not just you,” said registered nurse Tammy Sustarich.

Nurses say patient care is suffering from the chronic understaffing and overworking of UPHS Marquette nurses. With a week to go until they’re expected to strike, a federal mediator has been brought in to help with the contract negotiations between the MI Nurses Association and UP Health System – Marquette.

“I was involved in the strike in 1994, which was for safe staffing, and we were able to come to some agreements in that time,” said registered nurse Kris Hough. “It’s much worse staffing now than it’s ever been. I’m an ER nurse, and I’m very overwhelmed as most of my coworkers in the hospital have been.”

Approximately four hundred nurses are scheduled to strike beginning at seven a.m. Thursday, October fifth until the following day. The nurse’s union and hospital officials have been negotiating a new contract since April and the nurses have been working without a contract since late July.

“I just want to say, I want to be proud of what I do again,” added Hough.