Approximately 200 nurses at MidMichigan Health - Gratiot in Alma led an informational picket on Thursday, December 20 with community and Michigan Nurses Association support calling on the administration to negotiate a fair contract. The RNs say they worry about their hospital's ability to recruit and retain quality nurses under the current policy.
Participants attended outside of work hours to not disrupt traffic flow and patient care with some nurses returning to their duties at the end of their breaks.
Speakers for veteran nurses, new hires, retirees, and the clergy gave their perspectives in support of the picket and fair contracts and energized the crowd. Individuals of all ages, including babies and a dog, marched down the sidewalk down Warwick Drive to passing car horns and chants of several calls to action for the administrators.
Nurses at Gratiot are fighting for equity with other MidMichigan hospitals-- with nearby branches in Mt. Pleasant and Midland-- and are speaking out against proposed increases to the cost of their health insurance. MidMichigan's administration has yet to offer a proposal during the 15 negotiation sessions to offer Gratiot RNs equal overall compensation with other hospitals in the system. Gratiot nurses also want to strengthen staffing guidelines in their current contract to keep their patients safe.
“I became a nurse because I care deeply about my community,” said Shenan Shinabarger, a medical/surgical and pediatrics nurse who is president of the local union, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association. “Our executives love to talk about how we’re all a family, but their actions say otherwise. How can we be a family when we aren’t treated equally with nurses at other MidMichigan hospitals?”
Beyond fairness to current staff, contract standards are important for recruiting quality talent for quality patient care.
“We know that safe staffing saves lives, and we are proud to be advocates for our patients,” said Brandi Cutting, RN. “It’s just plain wrong that Midland executives are punishing us for being part of a union.”
MidMichigan Health -- Gratiot is an affiliate of the University of Michigan Health System. Their conduct during the negotiations University of Michigan Regent, Paul Brown.
“Nurses unions make hospitals better because they and their members fight for safe patient care,” Brown said. “They should be celebrated.”
Four unions represented at the informational picket, some showing out in their red clothing for solidarity. The color became an expression of such after Gerry Horgan, chief steward of the Communication Workers of America Local 1103, was killed on an August 15, 1989 picket line in Valhalla, New York.
Other major union disputes in recent memory include the United Automobile Workers strikes in Michigan, the food service workers strike at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the "Wear Red to Support Public Ed" movement in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona.
Information and copy provided by The Michigan Nurses Association. The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for RNs across the state. As the voice for all registered nurses in Michigan, MNA advocates for nurses and their patients at the Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.