Nurses and others gathered in Ann Arbor Saturday to rally in support of a new contract for nurses at Michigan Medicine in addition to safer working conditions at the health system.
Donned in red and carrying handmade signs, about 1,000 off-duty nurses and their supporters gathered in Fuller Park and marched around the hospital, chanting for a fair contract for nurses, who’ve been working without one since July 1.
The 6,200 members of the Michigan Nurses Association-University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council have been working without a contract since July 1 and are seeking a pact that ensures the health and safety of patients and nurses.
Speakers including state Rep. Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and nurses union leadership described key issues, sunderstaffing and mandatory overtime, that create hazardous working conditions for nurses and jeopardize patient care.
“Since the pandemic began, it’s the nurses that are on the front lines,” Dingell said. “People don’t understand what it’s been like for (nurses) on the front lines, helping so many people.”
Said Anne Jackson, a registered nurse: “It started getting really severe in July 2020 when (Michigan Medicine) did their cuts.
“They laid off 788 very important support staff. Well, their jobs didn’t go away — they just got given to the nurses.”
In a statement released Saturday morning, Michigan Medicine said it is continuing to work with the nurses union to forge a new labor agreement.
“Because we deeply value our nurses, we’ve put together a generous package that recognizes the value they bring to our patients and our organization,” Michigan Medicine said in the statement. The current proposal includes an average salary for nurses in the bargaining unit of $121,541 per year by their fourth, and a 5% raise for nurses every year for four years.
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Compared to the national average vacancy of 17%, Michigan Medicine’s vacancy rate is 5%, according to the statement.
According to an association news release, nurses are seeking to end unsafe mandatory overtime, acquire fair compensation that retains nurses and outpaces inflation and end understaffing through safe and contractually enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios.
“I want Michigan Medicine to give us appropriate staffing, safe staffing, so we can provide safe patient care”, said Renee Curtis, a registered nurse and president of the nurses union. “That’s what we deserve and our patients deserve.”
Contact Navya Gupta at [email protected]
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story omitted information on Michigan Medicine’s current proposal for nurses. This information has been added.