(WXYZ) — A majority of McLaren Macomb nurses voted in favor of a strike over patient care issues, according to a press release issued by OPEIU Local 40.
The union, which represents Registered Nurses and Service Employees at McLaren Macomb, stated that 8 out of 10 RNs of OPEIU Local 40 voted to authorize a strike. The contract is slated to expire on July 27, 2021.
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"Our RNs have worked diligently and endlessly over the last year dealing with an unprecedented pandemic, with a remarkable lack of support from McLaren. A central issue in the negotiations is to provide safe and appropriate nurse-patient ratios, which is the best way to protect our community. With these vote totals, obviously the nurses do not favor McLaren's wholly inadequate proposals that seemingly are designed only to protect McLaren's bottom line," said OPEIU Local 40 President Jeffrey Morawski.
The 7 Investigators have recently reported on nurses inside McLaren Macomb blowing the whistle on what they said were unsanitary conditions and a lack of COVID-19 protocols inside the hospital.
OPEIU Local 40 Vice President Dina Carlisle said they have 130 outstanding unresolved grievances "over the failure to provide adequate staff for patient care and new instances occur all the time."
McLaren Macomb issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
"We are disappointed OPEIU Local 40 has voted to authorize a strike at McLaren Macomb and that they intend to take nurses away from patient care in order to strike. The timing of this vote coincides with the difficult time that all hospitals have had recruiting and retaining nurses during the pandemic and is not a coincidence. This is an unconscionable attempt by select union representatives to use the pandemic as leverage at the bargaining table.
McLaren respects and cares deeply about our nurses and team members on the frontlines and wants to provide them the security of a long-term contract. We have been bargaining in good faith with OPEIU since February 2021 and have made significant progress on the terms for a new contract, including reaching 20 tentative agreements.
While the median individual income in Macomb County is approximately $32,000 (according to the most recent U.S. census data), the average full-time salary for our registered nurses is more than $75,000 annually. We believe these committed healthcare professionals deserve to be fairly compensated, as demonstrated by our most recent proposal, which includes:
- A 15.5% wage increase to retain and attract quality nurses
- An actionable plan to increase staffing levels
- A defined process to expedite the addition of more nursing support when needed
- A $2,000 nurse appreciation and ratification bonus
Despite this progress, OPEIU Local 40 representatives are aiming to take nurses away from patients during a pandemic, putting our nurses’ salaries and livelihoods at risk through a strike. OPEIU has used unfair labor practices to stall negotiations and bargained in bad faith to push our nurses to a strike. The National Labor Relations Board is investigating six separate charges against the union for their illegal tactics.
Purportedly, OPEIU’s key concern is “unsafe staffing.” Our nation’s nursing shortage is a well-documented fact, exacerbated by the current hiring crisis experienced at most hospitals and many industries across the country. OPEIU’s decision to strike will only compound the issue of limited nursing staff.
McLaren remains focused on the health and welfare of our patients, employees, physicians, and volunteers. Our hospital will remain open and fully operational during OPEIU’s strike, should it occur. We have been preparing for the unfortunate possibility of the union taking nurses away from patients’ bedsides to walk a picket line. We are implementing a comprehensive strike plan to ensure minimal, if any, disruption for those receiving care or visiting our hospital during OPEIU’s strike. We have contracted with a national firm to provide licensed, experienced temporary replacement nurses who will care for patients during the strike. We are prepared and committed to continually provide high-quality care for our community.
We remain committed to bargaining in good faith with OPEIU Local 40 for a new contract that continues to provide nurses with fair, competitive wages and benefits and allows our hospital to care for patients."