University of Michigan nurses call for contract to 'ensure safe staffing conditions'

Posted at 4:07 PM, Jul 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-14 19:48:06-04

Nearly 2,000 members of the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council (UMPNC) and supporters united Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor to march for safer staffing conditions. 

The protestors have called on the University's Health System "to bargain toward a fair, patient-centered contract that ensures safe staffing conditions."

According to the UMPNC, university managers refuse to disclose staffing information, such as "how many patients each nurse is assigned to at one time." Supporters say patients and family members have a right to know, and registered nurses can better ensure the safety of patients when issues are discussed openly. 

"Nurses are here today to demand a say in our nursing practice, and we are unwilling to make concessions that may jeopardize patient safety," said RN and UMPNC President Katie Oppenheim.

Studies have found when a nurse has too many people to care for at once, it can lead to medication errors, falls and increased infection rates, the group says.

"The University doesn't seem to feel an appropriate sense of urgency and needs to do more reach a fair, timely agreement," said UMPNC Grievance Chair John Armelagos. “Our contract expired on June 30. Yet, administrators refused to meet over an extended Fourth of July holiday week, only returning to the bargaining table on July 9. Settling a fair contract is an urgent issue, not just for nurses, but for our patients.”

The University of Michigan Health System has demanded cutbacks in retirement compensation from nurses during new contract bargaining, despite a $4.3 billion annual budget and $103 million surplus in 2018.