THE 400 RN’S at UP Health System-Marquette have overwhelmingly voted to authorize their union to call for a strike.
They voted Tuesday during daylong balloting and informational sessions.
A Yes vote does not mean they will go on strike, nor that they even want a strike. What it does mean, though, is that they have given their union leaders, now in negotiations for a new contract, an extra tool in the talks. A threat, even.
This follows the highly publicized filing of a couple hundred “Assignment Despite Objection” forms last week with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The forms, filed by nurses, detailed almost 800 cases of allegedly unsafe staffing at the hospital in the last several months.
That’s been a major issue for the nurses in the current negotiations–not enough nurses to handle the patient load safely, and too much forced overtime. Scott Balko, the president of the union, calls the filing of the ADO’s a “black eye” for the hospital.
Balko says he was hoping the hospital would show greater urgency in the contract negotiations which have continued all summer, but so far he’s seen nothing.
No response from hospital management yet.
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