University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council Authorizes Work Stoppage


According to the University, the current nurse vacancy rate at Michigan Medicine is 5%, compared to 17% nationally. // Unsplash

By Lindsay Nixon, STN Reporter

The votes have been tallied, and the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council (UMPNC) is reporting 96% of voters gave the bargaining team the ability to call for an unfair labor practices (ULP) strike. The vote took place the week leading up to Labor Day weekend, and UMPNC reports more than 4,000 members voted to authorize a work stoppage on their behalf.

The vote was organized after UMPNC claimed the university has failed to bargain in good faith, refused to negotiate over parking, terminated incentive pay for advanced practice nurses, and that university administration demanded that any bargaining about workload ratios be excluded from negotiations. The council also reports an open charge against the university for unfair labor practices, claiming the university retaliated against multiple nurses for engaging in union activity.

In response to these claims, the university proposal includes a $245 million investment and 21% base pay increase over the next four years, and a $4,000 bonus for each bargaining unit member. The proposal also includes expanded staffing guidelines to maintain staffing levels and the elimination of mandatory overtime.

The University of Michigan released the following statement after the results of the vote were made public:

“University of Michigan Health’s leaders are disappointed that the U-M Professional Nurses Council authorized a strike rather than working to achieve a positive result for our nurses at the bargaining table, especially when we are so close to resolution. This vote authorizes a strike, but no work stoppages have been scheduled. Patients can still expect to receive the same high-quality care at our hospitals and health centers. We are currently planning to ensure safe staffing levels if a work stoppage occurs.”

Both the University of Michigan and UMPNC report that patient safety during this time is of utmost importance. A 10-day notice of any work stoppage is given to the university and a task force is organized by UMPNC to ensure patient safety is not sacrificed during the strike. At this time, there has not been a notice of a work stoppage given to the university. Negotiations are set to resume on Tuesday. UMPNC nurses have been working without a contract since July 1.

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