Michigan Medicine fails to bring solutions to the table as nurses fight for safe staffing, forced overtime limits

ANN ARBOR-With their contract set to expire June 30, members of the Michigan Nurses Association-University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (MNA-UMPNC) are demanding that university administration end its takeaway demands and get serious about bargaining and address nurses’ concerns about the safety and quality of patient care.

“Michigan Medicine is not bringing serious proposals to the table to deal with the staffing crisis that is hurting patients,” said Renee Curtis, RN, president of MNA-UMPNC, which represents 6,200 registered nurses throughout the health system. “In fact, they want to make it easier to force nurses to work overtime, and they won’t even talk about safe RN-to-patient workload ratios to ensure every patient can get quality care. We are losing too many nurses because of Michigan Medicine’s model of running the system through unsafe staffing, excessive overtime and shortchanging patient care.”

MNA-UMPNC members have repeatedly raised concerns about the state of patient care as Michigan Medicine continues to exacerbate its staffing crisis by overworking its nurses instead of properly recruiting and retaining nurses. So far this year, MNA-UMPNC nurses have filled out and sent to management more than 800 Assignment Despite Objection forms, which document unsafe staffing and other patient care concerns. This compares with 1,000 in the entire previous year.

MNA-UMPNC members raised their concerns Thursday at the University of Michigan regents meeting in Ann Arbor, with more than 100 nurses and community members attending. Members also carried a petition signed by more than 4,000 nurses. The regents hold the contract with MNA-UMPNC.

Administration and the nurses continue to bargain, having held dozens of sessions since March; nurses are committed to achieving a fair contract that protects patients and recruits and retains the skilled nurses the health system needs, but have not seen those stipulations at the table.

The nurses are united in demanding:

  • An end to understaffing through safe and contractually enforceable nurse-to-patient workload ratios
  • Fair compensation that recruits and retain nurses and outpaces inflation
  • An end to unsafe mandatory overtime

“The university is in a strong financial position but instead of investing in the nurses who make up the core of our healthcare system, they are focused on building a $1 billion tower,” Curtis said. “Nurses are frustrated and alarmed by not being able to provide the quality of care our patients need and deserve. We need a contract that invests in nurses and patients, not an approach that is about building more buildings and padding the university’s bottom line.”

Information about Michigan Medicine’s and the University’s financial position is provided here:

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Medicine posted a 6.5% positive operating margin ($339.8 million) for 2021.[1] For the University itself, its endowment fund reached a value of over $17 billion dollars as of June 2021.[2] The fund had a $4.7 billion dollar increase in the last fiscal year for a 40.6% return on investment.[3] For the last 20 years, the endowment has had returns averaging around 9.5% a year. Despite this, the university only has a minimum distribution rate of 4.5%.[4] Over $5.6 billion dollars of the fund are “unrestricted”.[5] The University of Michigan’s endowment fund is the tenth largest in the country.[6]

[1] https://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/202106/michigan-medicine-reports-positive-financial-performance#:~:text=ANN%20ARBOR%20%E2%80%93%20Despite%20challenges%20presented,operating%20revenues%20of%20%245.2%20billion.

[2] https://record.umich.edu/articles/endowment-provides-increased-funding-for-u-m-operations/

[3] https://www.michigandaily.com/news/the-umich-endowment-grew-by-40-6-this-year-what-does-this-increase-mean-for-the-university-community/

[4] https://spg.umich.edu/policy/501.11


[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/02/19/wealthy-university-endowments/

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