National Nurses United

National Nurse Magazine April-May-June 2022

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MICHIGAN M embers at two Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) units recently ratified outstanding contracts after organizing both inside and outside the hospital walls against profitable out-of-state corporations. Nurses at the Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette hospital have longstand- ing visibility and support due to their community roots and actions. Nurses always have a good showing at the local Fourth of July parade and are active in the local labor federation. They held a well-attended community rally, with hospital techs and ancillary staff as well, as negotiations started this time around. And they have billboards up that say "Our Patients, Our Professions, Our Peninsula." But it's no doubt the nurses' 2017 strike laid the strongest foundation for their new contract. Nurses held a 48-hour-strike that showed their unity that year, fighting for safe staffing and better retention measures. The strike taught the employer that these nurses stand together and will not back down. Since then, they've only gotten stronger, with a high membership rate and a contract provision that guarantees a one-hour union orientation with every new hire. In that ori- entation, the nurses teach newcomers about the 2017 strike as well as the one in 1994, passing on their culture of standing up for patients and each other. UPHS-Marquette RNs also partnered with the technologists and ancillary staff at their hospital to support them in winning their union and joining MNA last year—another show of worker strength and solidarity. In June, thanks to the employer being painfully aware of their internal strength and community support, the nurses won a contract that included average wage increases of 20 percent the first year and 5 percent each of the next two years. They also won market adjustments to ensure appropriate credit for experience on the wage scale. All of these measures will help attract and retain bedside nurses—something the multibillion-dollar hedge fund that owns the hospital, Apollo Global Management, had previously refused to invest in, compro- mising patient care. "This is a huge leap in nurses being rec- ognized for our value, especially after putting in so many long, dangerous shifts throughout the pandemic," said Stephanie DePetro, RN, president of the local union. "Nurses remain focused on putting our patients and our community first." The outstanding contract sets the stage for similar gains for the MNA techs, who are bargaining their first contract, and raising the bar for nurses all around the Upper Peninsula. MNA members in Three Rivers, a small town in western Michigan, also won an out- standing contract by organizing in a way they never had before during their negotia- tions this year. As in Marquette, nurses stood up against an out-of-state corporation that hasn't lived up to its community promises. Shortly after the contract expired, nurses delivered a petition to Beacon Health execu- tives signed by a supermajority of RNs at the hospital, calling on them to negotiate a fair contract that "recognizes our worth, reflects the rising cost of living, and makes nursing at Beacon a sustainable career path." When executives didn't move, the nurses held an informational picket that attracted a crowd of nurses as well as community mem- bers, including representatives of other labor unions, and strong media coverage. The next time the bargaining teams met at the table, they reached a favorable tenta- tive agreement that the membership soon ratified. Nurses won wage increases of an average 12 percent the first year and 3 percent each of the next two years, along with higher shift dif- ferentials, phaseout of the practice of calling in nurses from home to work mandatory overtime; and improved paid time off policies. "Through our solidarity and community support, we made it clear that Beacon Health must invest in Three Rivers," said Brandy Shoup, RN, president of the local union. "This contract invests in nurses and provides the resources and protections we need." —Dawn Kettinger Nurses prevail in contracts against greedy out-of-state hospital corporations NEWS BRIEFS 4 N A T I O N A L N U R S E W W W . N A T I O N A L N U R S E S U N I T E D . O R G A P R I L | M AY | J U N E 2 0 2 2

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