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Michigan nurses call for ‘safe staffing’ as contract negotiations continue


Ann Arbor – Hundreds of nurses and family members gathered in Ann Arbor Saturday morning to protest working conditions and staffing issues as contract negotiations with the University of Michigan Health System continue .

A sea of ​​people wearing bright red T-shirts and holding signs scrawled with slogans such as “patients before profits” filled the grassy field of Fuller Park, which sits across from the University Hospital campus.

The show of force comes two weeks after the contracts of more than 6,000 nurses expired after months of labor negotiations between Michigan Medicine and the University of Michigan Council of Professional Nurses.

At the morning rally, a slate of politicians, organizers and union leaders addressed the crowd before union nurses and their supporters walked out, forming a long picket line along the perimeter of the hospital.

“People in the community understand that your working conditions are their conditions of care,” said AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber, calling the latest contract concessions offered by hospital management “despicable”.

“We have your back, we will be there with you in this fight,” Bieber said. “You are going to win. All you have to do is stick together and fight together and you will get justice.

Jennifer Suchyta spearheads the Safe Staffing Effort for Michigan Nurses in Ann Arbor on Saturday, July 16, 2022,

Before joining the picket line, a group of labor and delivery nurses from the hospital gathered for a photo with their families.

Some of the nurse’s top demands include safe staffing levels, an end to mandatory overtime, and changes to paid time off policy.

“We advocate for our patients for safe staffing and for our nurses, who work long hours and then have to fight for our contract as we work so hard to care for our patients,” Tasneem Abdul-Basir said. . , a 45-year-old nurse.

“It’s really, really, really frustrating because we’re here to represent all the hard-working nurses here, trying hard to take care of our patients.”

Michigan Medicine officials say they are continuing to work earnestly with the UM Council of Professional Nurses to create a new labor agreement after the previous contract expired on June 30.

“Our nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system,” the hospital’s executive nurse, Nancy May, said in an emailed statement on Saturday. “I couldn’t be more proud of our nurses and the care they provide.

Nurses march for safe staffing at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor on Saturday, July 16, 2022.

May acknowledged that the hospital’s nurses are “a key reason” for the facility’s performance and its patient safety record. According to the hospital, the contract terms it is currently offering recognize the value of its staff. Some aspects of the current proposal highlighted by the health system include increases in the average wage,

According to Ruth Moscarello, who also works in the labor and delivery department, staff are seeing more patients with fewer nurses.

“It’s not fair to our patients and staff here that we can’t provide them with the care they need,” Moscarello said.

Hundreds of nurses march on the grounds of the University of Michigan Hospital and hold an information picket.

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, DDearborn, acknowledged the stressful working conditions nurses face in the health care industry and she offered her support for the union’s demands.

“Some people reach breaking point. It’s hard, it’s scary,” Dingell said, wearing a bright red shift dress, acknowledging the stress nurses are under.

Dingell referenced a recent hospital stay, where she said she observed nurses juggling large numbers of patients at once. “We have to do something now, it’s not sure,” she said.

As the MP finished her speech, she ignited the crowd with a chant.

“What do we want?” asked Dingell.

“Safe staffing,” replied the nurses. “Now.”