Nurses are Calling for Improved COVID-19 Protections, Transparency, and Long-Term Solutions
Mt. Pleasant, MI – Nurses at McLaren Central Michigan Hospital will be holding a socially distant informational picket today. Nurses are advocating for the hospital to provide improved COVID-19 protections and more transparency in the short term, as well as to agree to a fair contract that will allow the hospital to recruit and retain quality RNs in the long term. McLaren RNs have been working with an expired contract throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
“Nurses are on the front lines. Why should our CEO have a multi-million-dollar salary when those resources are needed elsewhere?” said Jaime Peska, RN. “Our hospital should be putting patients before profits.”
The picket will be held outside Mclaren Central Michigan Hospital beginning at 4:00 pm today. It is the latest escalation in a series of growing tensions between nurses and other health care workers at hospitals across the state and the McLaren Health System. Front-line workers say they are frustrated with McLaren’s policies and continued refusal to implement a salary cap on executive compensation to reinvest those resources in the frontlines. According to the most recently available 990s, McLaren’s CEO makes over $6.9 million annually. A coalition of unions has identified over $8.4 million that could be reinvested in the frontlines if every McLaren executive were to cap their salary at $1 million annually.
McLaren has also failed to disclose how much money they have received from the federal government grants. Their refusal to provide the information resulted in widespread condemnation by ten unions. Nurses at McLaren Central had also previously filed an unfair labor practice charge against McLaren for refusing to disclose their PPE inventory. McLaren still has not done so.
“At a certain point, you have to ask yourself what they are trying to hide,” said Sam Sherwood, RN. “If there is a second wave, we need to be able to look after our patients. We need to be able to recruit and retain quality RNs in order to keep our patients safe.”
Currently, the hospital is asking nurses at McLaren Central to take pay raises that are less than cost-of-living adjustments.
Nurses also have pointed out the MidMichigan Gratiot has better COVID-19 policies for nurses, including providing 80-hours of paid COVID leave that can be used if a nurse needs to take time off with a loved one. McLaren’s COVID-19 PTO can only be used in the event of a confirmed positive result that is not covered by worker’s compensation. For all other circumstances, nurses are required to use their own paid leave or to take time off unpaid.
“It’s shameful that McLaren would prioritize high executive compensation over the frontlines and secrecy over transparency,” said Christie Serniak, RN, and president of the local affiliate of MNA at McLaren Central Michigan Hospital. “McLaren’s executives should start listening to nurses and doing what is right for our patients and community.”
This is the first informational picket that has been held to protest McLaren’s policies since the pandemic started. However, nurses say that unless McLaren changes course and starts respecting the frontlines, it will not be the last. OPEIU healthcare workers at McLaren Macomb have scheduled a socially distant informational picket in Mount Clemens on June 4.
The Michigan Nurses Association represents over 13,000 nurses and health care professionals across the state including at McLaren Central, McLaren Lapeer, McLaren Cheboygan, and McLaren Homecare.
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Contact: Amelia Dornbush; 517-896-7478