SO THE NURSES are back at work after a three day “lockout” that was technically not a lockout. It’s just, we’re told, that UP Health System-Marquette didn’t need the nurses those three days since they were already staffed with replacements.
The nurses wanted to return to their jobs. They weren’t allowed to return.
Management is being disingenuous when they say they had a five day contract with the replacements and therefore, they had to honor that contract. Not buying it. They could have paid the replacements, sent them on their way, and welcomed the staff nurses back.
Bottom line here is that UP Health System (or more accurately, Duke LifePoint) is playing hardball. The hospital went to the time and expense of hiring replacements from out of town, and they can do it again. Message received.
The question now is, Is there a will to fight back? Sure, many residents and businesses and politicians–Republican and Democrat–back the nurses, but will that change Duke LifePoint’s mind?
The union estimates that 5% of the nurses crossed the picket line, maybe less. What happens next time? To be honest, nurses in some departments have not been subject to the brutal overtime hours that nurses in other departments have had to endure. They’re not as outraged as the others. Will the nurses stand united again at the risk of losing more income, and maybe their jobs?
The question for management is less tangible and more far-reaching. The image of Duke LifePoint, as an out-of-state for-profit company, was suspect from the start. This unsavory fight with the nurses increases that damage daily.
Wrongly or not, many locals see this as a battle between the greedy, out-of-state, out-of-touch corporation against our friends–local folks, regular people trying to make a living and make the hospital safer.
That’s not entirely fair. A few years back, Duke LifePoint took over a hospital that was in dire financial straits. A mess. They’re trying to turn it around, they’re building a beautiful new hospital, and yes, they’re trying to make a buck.
The problem for them now is that they’re driving a deep wedge between themselves and the community. That’s not a great way to reverse the out-migration of UP patients to hospitals downstate or to Wisconsin or Minnesota. They’re just exacerbating the problem.
A lot for both sides to consider. At last word, no new negotiating sessions have been scheduled yet.
A POSSIBLE SOLUTION for the homeless problem in Marquette?
Maybe. Room at the Inn, the coalition of twelve local churches that provide shelter for the homeless in town, has formed a committee to look into possibly finding a more permanent facility for those who don’t have a place to bed down.
Currently, the churches provide the shelters but on a continuously rotating basis.
“We’re trying to determine whether that’s sustainable,” says Doug Russell, the executive director of Room at the Inn.
A few challenges he points to: 1) Sometimes it’s hard to find enough volunteers, and many of them are aging 2) It costs thousands of dollars every year to transport the homeless to the rotating shelters 3) Police have difficulties knowing what to do with a troubled homeless person when there’s no single location, open all day, for the homeless.
Of course, there’s that minor, little problem of actually finding a permanent place to house the homeless 24/7. It would cost a lot of money to buy an existing building or to build a brand new one. And then staff it.
We are big on fundraisers here. Trillium House found enough money to build a hospice, UPAWS and others are doing the same for their projects.. But it requires not only cash, but also leaders, energy, and a community will to succeed.
Is there a will to help the homeless in Marquette? We’ll find out.
CREDIT FACEBOOK AND City Commissioner Sarah Reynolds with quickly resolving a controversy last week.
Dia de los Tacos owner Mike Walker applied for his mobile business license renewal but was told by a city official that he had a problem. Two of his employees owed $150 in parking tickets.
Walker was presented with three options: 1)Pay their tickets immediately 2)Fire the employees, or 3) Not be granted his business license.
His reaction? “Whaaaaaaa???!!!”
He took to Facebook with his dilemma. It exploded. Outrage. Overreach by the government! Illegal! Crazy! And a few who suggested that, you know…gosh.. maybe the employees should just pay their fines.
Well, turns out Commissioner Reynolds read about it, took the issue to City Manager Mike Angeli who had his people do some checking, and sure enough, determined that the city officials dealing with Walker had misinterpreted the ordinance. They couldn’t force Walker to fire his employees or pay their fines.
Regardless, Walker–a good guy–ended up paying the $150 for his employees. And, thankfully, all remains well on the taco truck.
HERE’S ONE OF those unfortunate consequences of Marquette’s sudden love affair with roundabouts.
EZ Stop (formerly Wright Place), the convenience store on Wright Street across from the university, has gloomily watched the dusty, noisy excavation of its intersection for the last few months while the new roundabout is going up.
Bottom line cost, according to owner Jim Goodreau? About $180,000 dollars in sales, and $32,000 in profits, because of the construction. His customers just aren’t stopping by. Too difficult.
His estimates come from a comparison to his sales last year.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Construction along Wright Street is expected to wrap up by November.
“WE WERE GETTING kind of an old, tired look, so we decided to make a change.”
The words of Richard Merrill, the franchisee of Wendy’s on the highway. That’s why you see everything but the drive thru window closed down.
A major renovation is underway. The new Wendy’s will have a fireplace, a couple of TVs, a Wifi bar, a lounge area, a fancy new Coke dispenser, and an all new, modern look.
Not only that, but Merrill’s hiring 9-10 new employees.
If all goes well (and we know how that goes in this construction-crazy town), the new Wendy’s will be unveiled October 17th.
SPEAKING OF FAST food.
The new Burger King, across the parking lot from Lowe’s, is expected to open December 6th. It’s going up fast.
They’re expecting big volume along US 41.
“We’re excited to be on that side of town,” says Burger King spokeswoman Samantha Muscoe. “We’ll be providing an attractive option for all the commuters.”
Thirty employees to be hired
And the old Burger King on West Washington, which was rumored to be moving a couple of years ago? It’ll remain open for now, Muscoe says. Maybe somewhere down the line, it may be renovated.
A SALT WATER business on the shores of Lake Superior?
Yep. It’s called UP Reef. It’s brand new, located just above Wattsson and Wattsson on Washington Street downtown. No big signage yet.
An intriguing little business, though. Salt water tanks, salt water fish, salt water coral (which can be very expensive).
“Each of these is its own little ecosystem,” owner Jeff Larson tells you. It’s been a passion of his for years.
Nothing artificial in the tanks, no plastic, nothing. Just living organisms, and remarkably colorful fish.
OUR COFFEE SHOP craze continues.
Lakeside Bakery is now operating a temporary shop at street level at the Masonic Square. Earlier this summer, it was sharing space with other pop-up businesses but now it occupies the whole space.
Bakery items and coffee, compliments of Jennifer Lindsay and Davin Makela (the Davin’s Chocolates guy).
Specifically, they’re offering “nitro coffee” which coffee aficionados know all about. For the less sophisticated among us, it’s cold-brewed coffee infused with nitrogen. The result is a smoother, naturally creamier, foamier, even slightly sweeter coffee. Without the sugar or the cream.
Pretty doggone tasty.
Unfortunately for Lakeside Bakery, Masonic Square is now undergoing major reconstruction to make way for the Chamber of Commerce’s ambitious co-working space, and the bakery may soon have to move to another place in the building.
Ultimately, what it wants to do is find a permanent spot downtown. And join the 77 other shops currently vying for our coffee dollars.
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