University of Michigan Nurses to Vote on Work Stoppage Amid Dispute
By Andy Nixon, STN Reporter
Over 6,000 University of Michigan nurses will vote on whether or not to authorize a work stoppage due to what they claim as unfair labor practices at the university hospital.
Members of the Michigan Nurses Association-University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (MNA-UMPNC) will vote between August 27 - September 2. Currently, the nurses are in contract negotiations with the university and have been working without one since July 1, 2022.
The work stoppage vote comes amid what the nurses say is a pattern of unfair labor practices by the university, with the latest being the refusal to bargain over safe workloads. MNA filed a lawsuit and an unfair labor practice charge over that issue on Monday.
Other unsettled disputes brought forth by the MNA include an unfair labor practice charge filed in July 2022, alleging the university engaged in bad faith bargaining by unilaterally terminating an incentive payment for nurses in the University of Michigan Medical Group-run areas.
This week, the MNA-UMPNC filed a lawsuit claiming the university is still refusing to negotiate on nurse workload - the number of patients a nurse is required to attend to at one time. Renee Curtis, RN, president of MNA-UMPNC stated “When nurses are forced to take care of too many people at once, patient care gets compromised and nurses are put in danger of injury or burnout, and that’s happening far too often at our hospital”, adding, “our union is fighting for patient safety, first and foremost. It’s absurd to think that conversations about how to keep patients safe can be effective without talking about our nurses’ workloads.”
If a majority of MNA-UMPNC members vote yes on the work stoppage, that gives the green light to authorize their elected bargaining team of fellow nurses to call a work stoppage. In that event, MNA-UMPNC would give 10 days’ notice to the university so it can prepare.
In February of 2022, the MNA also filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging the university retaliated against multiple nurses for engaging in protected union activity within their unit. The union has made it clear that it is aware of and investigating additional violations within the health system.
The University of Michigan regents hold the contract with MNA-UMPNC. The legal documents can be viewed here.