Nurses, community members hold informational picket outside of Ascension Borgess Hospital following the expiration of their contract
Kalamazoo, MI – Over one-hundred nurses and community members will rally outside of Ascension Borgess hospital today to call on Ascension executives to negotiate a new contract that includes fair wages to recruit and retain nurses and no concessions. RNs are also demanding that Ascension cease engaging in behavior that they assert constitutes a pattern of unlawful anti-union behavior.
“Our hospital is facing a staffing crisis and it’s putting our patients at risk,” said Lori Batzloff, a nurse at Ascension and the president of the local Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). “Too many nurses are leaving to go where the grass is greener. Ascension executives want to respond to this by taking away even more from an already exhausted workforce. Ascension needs to recognize nurses are an investment not an expense.”
Nurses are seeking competitive and fair wages for all three years of the next contract and measures to ensure safe staffing. Despite the raises Ascension is offering in the first year, nurses are concerned their wages will not remain competitive because Ascension has refused to provide Cost of Living Adjustments in the second and third years of the contract. Nurses fear that without adequate staff, patient safety could be at risk.
Additionally, Ascension has demanded a series of take-aways including:
- A new requirement forcing nurses to work every other weekend;
- Cuts to retirement benefits that could cost nurses $30,000 or more;
- Eliminating the right to family or medical leave for part-time nurses and replacing all leave guarantees with policies Ascension executives could change at any time.
“We cannot keep asking nurses to do more with less,” said Mary Grace Ruivivar, RN. “Too many RNs have already left our hospital or the profession altogether. What is going to happen if they are forced to work every other weekend? We are sliding backwards. We need to improve to be better. If Ascension will not do the right thing on their own, we are prepared to do what it takes to keep our patients safe.”
In addition to concerns about contract negotiations, RNs say that they are also protesting what they assert is a pattern of unlawful behavior committed by Ascension’s executives. The National Labor Relations Board, a federal government agency, has already issued two complaints against Ascension Borgess Hospital and is investigating a third instance of potentially unlawful behavior. Among other allegations, the charges against Ascension include that they illegally retaliated against nurses for union activity.
“I grew up in Kalamazoo. I’ve worked here for 26 years. I have watched as our community hospital has gotten taken over by this massive corporation. Today, I am saying enough. We need Ascension Borgess to have the same values that our hospital used to have,” said Nate Hoffman, an RN at Borgess and vice president of the MNA local. “We need these executives to respect nurses and our collective voice. We need wages that don’t keep having us slide to the bottom. We need a fair contract.”
NOTE: This is not a work stoppage or strike – all participants are attending outside of their work hours. Picketing will occur without disrupting traffic flow or patient care.
The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest and most effective union for nurses and healthcare professionals in Michigan, representing approximately 13,000 members across the state. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United and the AFL-CIO.
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Contact: Amelia Dornbush, 517-896-7478