Marquette nurses vote to authorize strike

Apr 23, 2018

MARQUETTE, MI--  Members of the RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association voted over the weekend to authorize another strike at UPHS-Marquette. 

Union officials say Duke LifePoint has done little to correct staffing levels since the strike in October.

The Michigan Nurses Association released the following statement on 4/22/18:

"Over the course of a two-day vote, nurses of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike.

"Nurses have been in contract negotiations with Duke LifePoint since April 18, 2017 fighting for guaranteed safe staffing levels needed to protect patients across the Upper Peninsula. A two-month extension expired on July 28, and RNs have been working without a contract since. On October 5 and 6, nurses conducted a two-day strike to highlight ongoing patient safety concerns.

“'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. '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 p.m. on April 21, and 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. '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. '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.'"

UPHS-Marquette administration issued the following response to the nurses' action:

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.