NO BREAKTHROUGH ANNOUNCED yet in the labor dispute at UP Health System-Marquette.
At last word, most of the 400 nurses in the union are still expected to walk off their jobs and join a picket line at 7 am Thursday.
One final negotiating session between hospital management and the union is scheduled for today. The main issue for the nurses is a shortage of staff and too much forced overtime.
“We’re still hopeful we can reach an agreement to prevent the strike,” says hospital spokesman Victor Harrington. “But we’re 100 percent prepared to take care of our patients during the walkout.”
Monday, pink slips were posted around the hospital telling the replacement nurses where to report for orientation. Some departments had job-shadowing, others did not.
“There have been a lot of new faces in the cafeteria,” a veteran nurse told us.
It has to be a little uncomfortable. The staff nurses are instructing the replacement nurses, who will be making up to $70 an hour, how to do their jobs. The replacements have been promised up to $5000 and more for their five day stay at UPHS-Marquette.
That’s a nifty little paycheck.
Meantime, the regular nurses will be out in the streets with picket signs. “I’m just worried that they’re going to try to break the union,” a nurse said. “I’ve heard Duke LifePoint doesn’t like unions. What if they lock us out?”
It likely wouldn’t happen after this two day walkout. But what’s the next step for the union if negotiations for a new contract continue to fail? A longer walkout? Which might be followed by a lockout?
That won’t be pretty. Oh, the brand new $300 million hospital on the highway will certainly be pretty, but its image in its hometown would be severely, maybe irrevocably, tarnished.
COURT OFFICIALS AND prosecutors aren’t saying much about the latest developments in the tragic Tysen Benz case. Because they can’t.
But what it comes down to is this: the 13 year old girl who urged Tysen to kill himself earlier this year is now “on court status,” being monitored and receiving services.
Not exactly probation, but kind of like it, is what we’re told.
If she abides by all the stipulations while she’s on court status, she’ll face no further penalties. If she violates those stipulations, she’ll be in trouble with the court again.
Not a satisfying conclusion, not at all, to what has been an almost incomprehensible tragedy.
SOMETHING WE ALL hate to see in the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula: graffiti and garbage.
We’re hearing there’s more of it out there now in places we like to frequent–in particular, Sugarloaf, Mt Marquette, and Wetmore Pond.
So can the Department of Natural Resources do anything about it?
Well, in those particular spots, no. Sugarloaf, we’re told, is county property. Mt Marquette is city property, and Wetmore Pond is currently owned by Weyerhaeuser.
But DNR supervisor Doug Barry says, although catching perpetrators may be difficult, the key is tackling the problem immediately.
“If you let it go, it becomes more of a problem,” he says. “People start to think it’s okay (to vandalize and leave trash), and then it gets out of hand.”
Barry says the Sierra Club helps the DNR with cleanup at Little Presque. Maybe that’s the way to mitigate the damage–with private groups, and all of us individually.
YOU MAY HAVE noticed activity at the Father Marquette park downtown.
It’s the start of a $200,000 project, orchestrated by the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee, with the help of money from the DNR Trust Fund.
The statue’s been totally restored. Walkways, including for the disabled, are being installed. Also lighting, signs, irrigation, a picnic area, bike racks, a garden, and ultimately some public art.
A total transformation.
“The statue and the park have been neglected for too long,” committee member Barb Kelly tells us. “We want to turn them into a show piece for Marquette.”
And they’ll succeed. Completion of the project is scheduled for next spring.
IT MAY NOT look like it but it won’t be long before Marquette’s newest coffee shop opens its door.
Contrast Coffee, on Third Street, is hoping for a soft launch later this month. No precise date yet.
Big surprise, they had a construction problem or two that delayed things. Doesn’t everybody?
They’ve got all their equipment on site but it still needs to be installed. Their staff of twelve has been hired. Now it’s just a matter of setting up shop, brewing that first cup, and joining the city’s growing coffee community.
WE MAY HAVE a slew of restaurants in town competing for our dining dollars, but Zephyr, the wine bar on Front Street, seems undaunted.
It just extended its hours to include lunchtime six days a week. They’re hoping to find customers among downtown workers and retirees who want to sample their fare in the middle of the day, maybe with a glass of wine.
The “umbrellas” (which have now come down) were a boon to the Zephyr, because they were right next door to the wine bar. As a result, it was discovered by a whole new group of people.
But now with winter approaching, the moment of truth for the downtown restaurants–especially the new ones–will soon arrive. Will they have enough loyal, local diners and drinkers to keep them afloat until next June?
WE’RE JUST TWO weeks away from one of Marquette’s newest, most promising, and most exciting events–the Fresh Coast Film Festival.
Thursday, October 19th to Sunday, the 22nd.
It’s the second year for the festival which last year drew about 500 people. This year, ticket sales and film entries indicate they’ll double that.
Sixty documentary films last year, 120 this year. They be shown at nine venues all over town. Ticket-buyers will also be able to join seven outdoor adventures around the county, free of charge.
The films cover an array of outdoor topics–skiing, fishing, and mountain biking, of course, but also the Flint water crisis, the decline of bees, and the aging of the American farmer.
The festival–the brainchild of Aaron Peterson, Bugsy Sailor, and Bill Thompson–is unique. And it’s growing, with plenty of local support.
It’s the kind of event that could put Marquette on the map for outdoors enthusiasts and environmentalists all over the nation.
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