Munson Manistee Hospital Makes Illegal Cuts to Health Care for Nurses

After Slamming the Door on Mothers and Families by Closing OB Dept, Hospital Brass Now Attacks RNs

MANISTEE – Executives at Munson Manistee Hospital have illegally made changes to nurses’ pay cycles and health care benefits and have refused to provide information necessary for collective bargaining, according to allegations of a complaint issued by federal officials from the National Labor Relations Board and new charges filed by the Michigan Nurses Association.

The alleged violations of U.S. labor law are taking place just as Munson Manistee is closing its Obstetrics Department, forcing expectant mothers and families to travel long distances for vital services and laying off experienced nurses.

The Munson Manistee Obstetrics Department closed its doors on Friday, May 31. Manistee and surrounding communities are now left without a facility or personnel specialized to handle emergency deliveries.

“This isn’t the deal we expected when Manistee County sold our community hospital to Munson Healthcare in 2016,” said Tracy Wilks, a community leader. “Munson said we’d get more and better services. Instead, we’re getting less. They slammed the door on mothers and families. And now they’re attacking our nurses.”

“When you cut back on things like health care, it gets harder to recruit and retain the best nurses,” said Wilks. “How is that good for anybody in Manistee?”

According to the allegations of a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board in April, Munson-Manistee Hospital violated federal labor law by making changes to pay cycles for nurses and eliminating cash payments for those who opt out of employer-paid health insurance.

According to the NLRB, the hospital also refused to provide information about health care utilization and relief staff utilization, as required by law. Hospital executives refused to settle the complaint, and a trial is scheduled before an NLRB administrative law judge in August.

This week, RNs at Munson Manistee, who are members of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) filed an additional unfair labor practice charge stating hospital executives have made unilateral changes to nurses’ health care premiums and have again failed to provide information needed for collective bargaining.

“It’s pretty simple,” said Kristina Protasiewicz, an operating room nurse who is president of the nurses’ union at Manistee Hospital. “When you have a union, your employer can’t change terms and conditions of your employment without talking to you first.”

“Hospital executives didn’t talk to us,” said Protasiewicz. “Just like they didn’t talk to anyone in our community before they decided to close our Obstetrics Department.”

Munson Manistee RNs have been negotiating with hospital executives for a new labor agreement since October of 2017.

“It looks like all the decisions about Manistee are now being made by executives in Traverse City,” said Wilks. “James Barker and the local board need to think of our community and stand up for nurses and patients in Manistee”

Barker is president of Munson Healthcare Manistee hospital. Kellie Parkes is chair of the hospital board.  Brian Postma is vice chair, Beth McCarthy is secretary and Joel Meister is Treasurer. The president of Munson Healthcare in Traverse City is Ed Ness.

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for registered nurses in Michigan, advocating for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.

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ContactRoger Kerson, 734.645.0535

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