UPDATE: Hospital responds to strike authorization vote

UPDATE: Monday, April 23rd 9:30 a.m.

UPHS – Marquette has released a statement in response to the nurses’ vote to authorize a second strike. The statement reads:

We are disappointed with union leadership’s decision to schedule another strike authorization vote, rather than focusing their efforts at the bargaining table. For months now, we have been dedicated to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of all parties, and this action by the MNA at this time is an unhelpful distraction. We are not sure how a strike would serve anyone’s interests. Regardless, we are continuing to work in good faith to finalize an equitable and responsible labor agreement, and we are scheduled to continue our negotiations with the MNA on April 23, May 8, May 9, May 22 and May 24. We remain hopeful that we will be able to find the common ground necessary to reach a final agreement.

As always, patient safety and high-quality care remain our top priority, and we are proud to continue providing the best for our community.

MARQUETTE — After two days of voting, nurses of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike, according to a MNA press release.

The nurses and Duke LifePoint have been in contract negotiations since April 18th, 2017. A two-month extension expired on July 28th, and the nurses have been working without a contract since then.

On October 5th and 6th, the nurses conducted a two-day strike to highlight their concerns over safe staffing and patient safety concern.

“Very little has changed since our first strike in October,” said Scott Balko, operating room RN and president of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA, in the statement. “Nurses still take the decision to strike very seriously, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our practice and the community that we serve.”

Voting closed at 9:00 p.m. Saturday. At that time, no strike date had been set.

The elected nurse bargaining team has the authority to call a strike, and by law, they are required to give the hospital ten days of notice.

“Apparently, Duke LifePoint executives in Tennessee continue to focus on profits. They seem to be unconcerned about attracting and retaining highly skilled nurses to work in Marquette,” said Janie Klamerus, staffing pool RN and bargaining team member, also in the statement. “The nurses who dedicate their lives to serving the UP deserve fair compensation and safe working conditions.”

“I want to thank all of our friends and neighbors who were so supportive through the first strike. They understand exactly why we must act. This is about protecting local families and providing the highest quality of care,” said Sam Ditty, staffing pool RN and member of the bargaining team, in the statement. “We have been in negotiations for a little over a year now. It is long overdue for Duke LifePoint to agree to a contract that includes meaningful safe staffing language.”

The UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council represents about 375 Registered Nurses at UP Health System – Marquette.