MyMichigan Soo Nurses Announce ULP Strike Date

Team gives executives 10-day notice; hospital spending millions on software instead of staff

SAULT STE. MARIE, MI – Registered nurses at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault late Wednesday delivered 10-day notice of an unfair labor practice strike to hospital executives. Nurses will strike for five days beginning at 6:45 a.m. April 15.

Nurses at the hospital, who make up a local of the Michigan Nurses Association, voted unanimously last month to give their bargaining team the ability to call for a strike should it become necessary. Both sides met Wednesday for a 13th session of bargaining but did not reach agreement. Nurses have been working under a contract that expired Dec. 31.

“We are willing to sacrifice our paychecks to fight for our patients because we cannot allow the situation at our hospital to continue to deteriorate,” said Colleen Waucaush, RN, president of the local. “It’s clear that MyMichigan executives are not taking our concerns about staffing seriously. They failed to act after our petition, and they failed to act after our informational picket. A strike is the only option we have left for us to show we are committed to advocating for our patients and our community.”

In months of negotiations, MyMichigan executives have failed to offer any solutions that:

  • Put nurses on par with MyMichigan-Alma or other Upper Peninsula hospitals including UPHS Marquette, OSF Escanaba, and Marshfield-Dickinson Iron Mountain (see a comparison chart here);
  • Address the rising costs of health insurance they are trying to put on nurses; and,
  • Withdraw proposed concessions including demanding that unionized MyMichigan Medical Center Sault nurses give up their right to cash out unused PTO while allowing non-unionized employees at other MyMichigan hospitals to keep that benefit.

Previously, after an investigation by the federal government, the hospital was forced to post a settlement saying it would not illegally create the impression of surveilling RNs and would not illegally discipline nurses – including the union’s president – for engaging in protected union activity. At least 10 charges of illegal behavior have been filed against MyMichigan by employees and unions in the past decade.

RNs feel that MyMichigan’s behavior has not improved despite the posting. Nurses have stated that they felt surveilled by the hospital during an informational picket last month and are concerned the hospital is not acting in good faith. The Michigan Nurses Association is investigating those allegations and may take further action.

Nurses point out that MyMichigan is spending significant resources everywhere except in direct patient care. MyMichigan Health announced recently that it is acquiring Ascension Michigan’s locations in Saginaw, Tawas and Standish, and that it is undergoing a $10 million medical records update at MyMichigan Medical Center Sault.

“It is hard to understand how MyMichigan executives can easily spend $10 million on a new records system for our hospital, yet they refuse to invest in the people who actually provide the care day after day,” said Brittany Barrett, RN. “Nurses want the best for our patients, and that means having enough staff to provide the best care possible. We are losing nurses to other hospitals because MyMichigan pays so little in the Soo – that’s not fair to our community. We are united in standing strong for what’s right.”

NOTE: Photos and video from the nurses’ March 13th informational picket are available here.

The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest union and professional association 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: Dawn Kettinger; 517-721-9688 (cell)

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