Lansing, MI – Members of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital, a local of the Michigan Nurses Association (PECSH-MNA), have announced that they will be holding a strike authorization vote. Voting will begin on November 16 and run through November 21. Fifty-three different classifications of caregivers represented by PECSH-MNA including nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists, have been working under an expired contract since October 31. All members are eligible to participate in the vote.
“All we are asking for is a fair contract that will allow us to recruit and retain caregivers,” said Katie Pontifex, a nurse at Sparrow Hospital who is president of PECSH-MNA. “While a strike is always a last resort, we are willing to do what it takes to make sure that we will always be able to provide the highest quality of care. We are advocating for our patients and our community.”
The vote would allow for the PECSH-MNA negotiating team, which is made up of Sparrow caregivers elected by the membership, to have the ability to call for a strike. If the strike authorization vote is successful, a 10-day notice would be provided before any strike date is set.
“Cost of living expenses are rising, qualified caregivers are leaving the profession, and so far the only answer Sparrow executives have offered is to penalize us if we have to call in sick on weekends by making us work double the next time,” said Kevin Glaza, a pharmacist at Sparrow Hospital and vice president of PECSH-MNA. “We need fair wages. We need affordable healthcare. We need a commitment to PPE. Caregivers could not possibly be more clear about what is necessary to be able to recruit and retain the staff we need, but Sparrow executives just don’t want to listen.”
Sparrow executives have yet to offer wages that keep up with the rising cost of living. Executives at the hospital are also seeking to dramatically increase healthcare costs on caregivers while refusing to commit to giving caregivers an N-95 respirator or equivalent if they are looking after a COVID-19 positive patient. Sparrow has not cited an inability to pay as a reason for rejecting caregivers’ proposals for fair wages and benefits at any point during negotiations.
Last week, over 1,000 caregivers and community members held an informational picket on Michigan Avenue outside of Sparrow Hospital to call for a fair contract. For more context on negotiations, please click here.
The Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital is a local of the Michigan Nurses Association (PECSH-MNA.) The union represents approximately 2,200 members across 53 different job classifications at Sparrow Hospital including nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists. 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.
Contact: Amelia Dornbush, 517-896-7478