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More than 1,000 nurses picket University of Michigan Health
For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact:
Robert Kolt, 517-706-0001 or cell 517-881-4446
Carl Ginsburg, 917-405 1060
MORE THAN 1,000 NURSES PICKET U. of MICHIGAN HEALTH DEMAND PATIENT CARE COME FIRST, SAY “NO” TO CUTS
Nurses Allege University of Michigan Health System Acted Illegally, File Charges with State
(Ann Arbor, MI)– More than 1,000 registered nurses at the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS), represented by the Michigan Nurses Association/National Nurses United, formed a picket line at noon today stretching blocks in front of the health facility, sharing information with the community and hearing from local supporters and others from around the state and nation.
“Above all else, the 4,000 RNs at UMHS stand for safe, quality patient care . Cuts and restrictions proposed by management undercut that care and make it harder for nurses, mostly women, to schedule their lives. Some nurses will leave and work elsewhere rather than accept these conditions and UMHS will suffer. Worse, we believepatient care will decline as a result of these changes,” said Katie Oppenheim, a labor and delivery nurse who is president of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council.
The nurses were joined by hundreds of supporters, including representatives from teachers and firefighter unions, the Michigan AFL-CIO, other unions and organizations. Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, joined the picketers from California. “We will be here for the next picket and one after that, as many as it takes so management understands our total commitment to safe and quality patient care here and all over the country,” Burger told the crowd. “Now management comes to you with cuts and restrictions which make your working lives harder. This really is an attack on working women and could harm our patients.”
“UMHS's proposals are a direct hit on women and especially working mothers, which is ironic given the fact that the company is about to open a new women's and children's hospital,” said Oppenheim. The new facilities, with a $760 million price tag, are slated to open on November 13.
The nurses filed an amended charge on August 2 with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission alleging that UMHS unlawfully engaged in regressive bargaining, made unilateral changes in working conditions, bargained directly with employees, and refused an employee’s rights to union representation, all violations of the Michigan Public Employment Relations Act.
Proposed cuts in benefits and schedule changes in UMHS's contract proposal will negatively impact quality patient care, picketing nurses said. They pointed out that UMHS RNs are seeking what other top university health system facilities provide their nurses- in health coverage and work conditions critical to working women. Without comparable contracts, many RNs have indicated they will leave UMHS, which will have a negative impact on patient care.
“We bring a very high level of professionalism and experience to our patients,” said Trisha Goodridge, RN, a 13-year veteran of UMHS. “That’s why patients come here from all over the world. Lose us and you lose that level of patient care expertise.”
UMHS has not claimed it cannot afford the nurses' current level of benefits. UMHS recently reported its 15th consecutive year of operating profits at a 2.1% operating margin in the last fiscal year. Inpatient and outpatient activity increased by approximately 3% over the previous year. The University of Michigan Board of Regents recently approved a $2.1 billion budget for UMHS for fiscal year 2012.
Nurses have been working under an expired contract since June 30. The nurses and management are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on August 16.
The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest, most effective union for RNs in Michigan. As the voice of all registered nurses in Michigan, MNA advocates for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table. MNA is a constituent member of National Nurses United and an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.