Adrian, MI – MNA nurses overwhelmingly voted to ratify their tentative agreement for a new contract. Ratification meetings were held throughout the day and into the evening yesterday. Ballots were counted after the last meeting concluded.
“This is union democracy in action,” said Tracy Webb, a critical care nurse and president of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) local at ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital in Adrian. “ProMedica’s administration tried to tell us what had to be in our contract, but they underestimated the resolve of MNA RNs. Nurses understood that our community needed better than what ProMedica was trying to force us to take. We knew that we couldn’t give up and couldn’t give in. Because we remained united as a union, we were able to win more and protect our future. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together.”
After ProMedica’s administration sent nurses a “best and final” offer on January 9, 98% of RNs voted on January 11 to give their elected bargaining team the ability to call for a strike should it be necessary. ProMedica’s administration then made minor modifications to their proposal and provided nurses with a new “last, best, and final offer” on January 22. This “last, best, and final offer” still did not include wages above the $50/hour and continued to demand the creation of a two-tier retirement system that would deny future nurses at the hospital the same benefits that current nurses have.
On January 30, nurses held a “practice strike” as a final warning to the hospital.
“I don’t think ProMedica had ever seen anything like the dedication to a fair contract that MNA nurses at our hospital were demonstrating,” said Sue McGaffigan, RN. “Something clearly clicked for the hospital’s administration when they saw almost every single RN who works at our facility either wearing red on the floors or picketing outside the hospital in the slush. Our solidarity made all the difference in the world.”
The next day, ProMedica’s administration folded. A tentative agreement was reached that was significantly improved from both “final” offers. ProMedica’s administration backed off of their demand to establish two-tier retirement system that would have resulted in future ProMedica nurses having worse retirement benefits than current RNs at the hospital. Nurses were also able to win a new pay scale that reaches over $50/hr by the end of the three-year contract.
“If you are a nurse at a different hospital reading this, my message to you is simple. You have more strength when you are united as a union than you ever could if you are divided and alone,” said Webb. “Never let anyone tell you that you don’t have power when you act together in solidarity. You have more strength than you could ever know.”
In addition to protecting retirement and improving wages, nurses were able to win numerous other gains, including:
Establishment of an equitable system to place nurses on the wage scale by years of licensure;
Language to limit the cost of healthcare premiums paid by nurses;
Stronger protections limiting the use of mandatory OT;
Establishment of basic health and safety language including the contractual right to PPE and protections against violence in the workplace;
Additional language to assure that assignment despite objection forms to document unsafe staffing submitted by nurses will be properly addressed.
Now that the tentative agreement has been ratified, the new contract takes effect immediately. Approximately 140 nurses are covered under the agreement.
The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest and most effective union for registered nurses and healthcare professionals in Michigan. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United and the AFL-CIO.
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Contact: Amelia Dornbush; 517-896-7478