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Q. What is a strike?
A. A strike happens when a group of workers – in our case, hundreds of nurses – come together and decide to withhold our labor in order to advocate for what is right.
Q. Why are we considering holding a strike vote?
A. The shortest explanation is that we would hold a strike vote to win a fair contract and to protest the alleged unfair labor practices committed by Ascension Borgess.
Here’s a longer explanation:
Ascension Borgess is currently demanding serious concessions at the bargaining table. They want to require nurses to work every other weekend, cut our retirement benefits, and gut our contractual language related to family and medical leave. This includes eliminating the rights of part time nurses to take family or medical leave, and giving up our rights to extended leave when we are personally ill or are bringing new children into our families.
After three years of giving everything we have to this hospital, they want to take more from us. Our elected nurse bargaining team is resisting these take-aways and is fighting for safe staffing ratios and competitive wages so that we can recruit and retain enough nurses to safely run the facility. Moreover, Ascension Borgess has engaged in a consistent pattern of what we consider to be unlawful labor practices that seek to undermine our union.
As nurses, we have to decide together how far we are willing to go to get the contract we deserve and to stop Ascension’s union-busting. We get to choose together: are we satisfied with what Ascension is offering? Are we willing to continue to tolerate their unfair labor practices? If not, what are we willing to do to change the status quo?
MNA has not called for a strike authorization vote to date. We are hoping that Ascension will do the right thing after our informational picket. However, it’s possible they won’t and it’s important to know our options if they don’t change their position in our next bargaining session.
Q. How will the decision about whether to strike made?
A. All dues-paying members will be invited to participate in a strike authorization vote. If a majority vote YES, our elected bargaining team will have the power to call for a strike if the team deems it necessary. A strike can only be authorized if we – the membership – choose to make it happen.
If you are not yet a member of our union, you can become one by going to minurses.org/join.
Q. Is striking legal? Am I protected from retaliation if I go on strike?
A. Yes. You have the legal right to strike under the law. No action can be taken against your nursing license for participating in a strike. Retaliation from management against anyone for participating in the strike is strictly illegal. Illegal retaliation may include reducing regular hours, changing schedules, and issuing disciplines. MNA will aggressively defend members experiencing retaliation due to participation in legally protected strikes and union activity. If this occurs, please contact your MNA representatives immediately.
Q. Can the hospital hire permanent replacements?
A. This is not likely and is ill-advised on the part of the hospital. In most strike situations, the use of temporary employees can satisfy the employer’s needs to remain open. It would be very difficult to find skilled nurses willing to accept a job without assurance of continued employment when the strike is over, and it could potentially be illegal for management to seek to do so. We are striking, in part, to protest the unfair labor practices of the hospital. If Ascension is found to have committed unfair labor practices (ULPs), the hospital would not be able to permanently replace any workers. The National Labor Relations Board has already found merit in two separate instances of ULPs committed by Ascension and is investigating a third.
Q. Can the hospital or my manager ask me whether I would strike?
A. You should expect that the hospital or your manager will ask you about whether you would individually participate in a potential strike. Hospitals often instruct managers to develop and utilize personal relationships with staff, so they can get them to talk about their plans. You are not required to respond to these questions, and if you do, we urge you to simply reply that you do not know or are unsure. It is illegal for these questions to be asked of you by management in a coercive or intimidating way. If that happens, you should contact your MNA representatives immediately.
Q. What should I do if my supervisor tells me that I have to come to work during the strike and/or shows me some document saying that?
A. Contact MNA representativesimmediately. This is a standard scare tactic to convince some caregivers that they are “required” to work. Our union will notify the employer that a limited number of MNA members will be available if needed through a task force in the case of a true emergency.
Q. How will patient care be impacted by a strike? What about my license?
A. We work diligently to protect our patients before and during any strike. This includes giving a 10-day notice of a strike to the hospital and organizing a task force that will be available to the hospital in the case a true emergency arises during a strike. Our strike would be to highlight issues affecting nurses and patients as a result of Ascension’s decisions. Your license will not be negatively impacted by your decision to choose to act in solidarity and go on strike.
Q. Should a newly hired caregiver honor the picket line during a strike? What if I’m not yet an MNA member?
A. Every nurse working under the MNA contract should honor the picket line. Federal labor law protects all concerted activity, including strikes. New hires are covered by our contract and therefore should honor the picket line. If you aren’t yet a member, you can join by going to minurses.org/join! The more members we have, the stronger our voice. Ascension executives can see our membership numbers going up and it makes a difference in negotiations.
However, no nurse represented by MNA should cross the picket line under any circumstances. We need everyone to stand together in solidarity if we want to make our working conditions better.
If you are a nurse working at Borgess on a PRN, Short Term Option, Borgess Staffing Solutions, or agency contract, and you want to support us, you can refuse to pick up any extra shifts until the contract is settled.
Q. What does it take to have a successful strike?
A. SOLIDARITY! The more nurses we have standing together, the stronger we will be. Every nurse who chooses not to stand with us – should we decide to strike – weakens the union and our bargaining position.
Q. When would the strike be?
A. Should we choose to authorize our bargaining team to call for a strike, we would be giving them the power and ability to set a date for a strike in the future. Our team would provide 10-day notice of a strike date.
Q. How can community members support our campaign?
A. We have been so moved by the support we have received from the Kalamazoo community. Should we end up striking, everyone would be welcome to join us on the picket line – any time and any hour. Donations of food and hand warmers would also be appreciated! Community members can also voice their support for us by calling or emailing Ascension.
Looking for the incentive agreements? Just click here
Here are the leaders elected to office in the June 29, 2022 election. But we can’t do it alone – we’ll be reaching out to recruit unit stewards and Second Table members in the coming weeks!
Local Union Officers
President: Lori Batzloff (NCU)
Vice-President: Nate Hoffman (PACU)
Secretary: Amber Andrews (ICU)
Treasurer: Jamie Brown (STICU)
Chief Grievance Representative: Jenni Livingston (PreSurgery)
Four of the local union officers
Doris Goodrich (OB)
Amanda Hobbs (PACU)
Jane Opra (ICU)
Delegates and Alternate Delegates
Lori Batzloff (ICU)
Carol D’Cruz (NRT)
Dawn Langley (SWAT)
Jenni Livingston (PreSurgery)
Nate Hoffman (PACU)
Jane Opra (NCU)
Amber Andrews (NCU)