Portage Nurses Rally for New Contract and Putting Patients First

Nurses from Portage Pointe rallied today at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in Houghton. Nurses and the Michigan Certified Nurses Association are negotiating new employment contracts with life point. Life Point, who is based in Tennessee, and is owned by the private equity firm Apollo based in New York. Had purchased up health systems a few years ago. In the previous contract nurses made concessions so the facility could remain competitive with other local hospitals.

UP Health systems says that they are committed to their nurses, staff, and patients, and hopes to come to terms on a contract with the Michigan Nurses Association.  They also noted that the pandemic put all aspects of the health care industry under stress.

The Michigan Nurses Association claims that Apollo, who owns UPHS, manages over 400 billion dollars in assets, and the company CEO is worth over 4 billion alone.  For nurse wages at Portage Pointe to be competitive with the industry and region, they are asking for an increase of nearly 8 percent.

UPHS has reportedly offered a 3-and-half percent raise for MNA staff. Portage Pointe nurses want Apollo, and Life Point to recognize what low staff retention, and employment do to a community like the U. P. and invest in the people who work here. Michgian Nurses Association and UP Health’s full statements can be read below.


Michgian CNA Statement:

U.P. Health System nurses and community members will be holding a rally beginning at 4:30pm today at the Portage Canal Lift Bridge to call on LifePoint executives to negotiate a fair contract to recruit and retain nurses.

“Our staffing levels are getting dangerously low as more and more nurses leave,” said Danielle Hamlin, RN at UPHS Portage. “We just want to be able to look after our families and our community.”

In order to be competitive with area hospitals, UPHS Portage nurses would need at least a 7.75% raise to become close to market rates. Currently, UPHS is only offering a 3.5% raise. Nurses in their last contract had agreed to take lower wages to try to help the hospital. Now, UPHS Portage is profitable.

“LifePoint and Apollo executives seem to care more about making money off of us than they do about investing in our community,” said Leanna Pennala, RN. “Their conduct really makes you question whether they can appropriately run our health system. Our patients’ lives should always come before expanding a billionaire’s profit margins.”

U.P. Health System was purchased a few years ago by LifePoint, a company based in Tennessee owned by the private equity firm Apollo Management, based in New York. Apollo manages over $400 billion in assets and has made a profit during the pandemic. Apollo’s current CEO has a net worth of over $4 billion.

LifePoint’s ownership of UPHS has been contentious. Four years ago, nurses at Marquette went on strike to win a fair contract.

“These out-of-state executives just don’t understand how desperately we need to be able to have more staff to keep our patients safe. We’re just stretched too thin,” said Rebecca Kerry, RN. “We’re pleading with them to do the right thing. They haven’t listened.”

“On some days, it feels like these out-of-state executives don’t care about us or our community, so long as they can keep making money,” said Amanda Klein, RN. “It isn’t right. These LifePoint executives need to either start using their billions of dollars to invest in our community or they need to leave.”

After three extensions, the contract for Portage nurses expired on September 30. Nurses say that they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their patients safe.


UP Health Systems Statement:

The employees represented by the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) are critical members of our team, and we support them and respect their right to assemble and speak freely to the community they serve. We understand that the hospital’s contract negotiations with the MNA will likely be addressed. While we cannot comment on specific elements of those negotiations out of respect for the bargaining process, we are confident that the result will be a mutually agreeable contract for all. In the meantime, please rest assured that we will not be distracted from providing excellent care to our patients and community.


UP Health System – Portage takes very seriously our commitment to delivering high-quality, safe, and compassionate care close to home, and we strive daily to create excellent workplaces for our employees. Especially during this pandemic, which has arguably been the most challenging situation the healthcare industry has ever faced, we want to recognize and support our staff and clinical teams who have cared for our patients during this time.