NURSES AT UP Health System-Marquette have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their union to call for a strike.
The 400 RN’s voted Tuesday during daylong balloting and informational sessions. The announcement of the voting results came late Tuesday night.
This 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.
Update at 10 am. A response from management:
“The Michigan Nurses Association reportedly worked very hard to convince an undisclosed number of UP Health System-Marquette employees to vote in the affirmative in yesterday’s strike authorization vote.
“Notwithstanding the reported result of the vote, we are encouraged by the many employees who have expressed their opposition to this tactic by the MNA, and who are dismayed by the Union’s recent public attacks that portray their hospital in such an inaccurate, inflammatory and damaging light.
“…We remain optimistic that negotiations will eventually conclude with a collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of all parties….”
WE HAVE A new participant in Marquette’s increasingly passionate love affair with coffee. Velodrome Coffee Company, on West Washington Street across from the Co-op, opened its doors this week.
It’s sleek and white. Nothing fancy about the furnishings.
Just good coffee and some tea, brought to you by owners Brice and Teagan Sturmer. Plenty of seats and Wifi, of course.
No big sign out front yet, just a smaller one on the sidewalk.
A good-sized crowd during the soft launch. They’ll be back if they like the coffee.
And don’t forget, Contrast Coffee on Third Street (at the old Forsberg Flowers location) is also planning to open shortly. Likely in late September. We may become the most caffeinated town in the entire Midwest.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S more!
Now comes word that yet another coffee shop, Cafe Intermezzo, is planning to debut this fall. It’ll move into the Strictly Business Uniforms shop which is closing down next month.
It’ll be a “European-style” coffee shop, according to Sasa Kostic who, along with his wife Milano, will own and run the business.
More than 60 types of coffee, Kostic says, along with plenty of reading material for coffee-lovers. It’ll have a different feel, he says, and the coffee will be nothing but top quality.
He also promises a surprising new feature in Intermezzo, something that no other coffee shop in these parts has. They’re keeping it a mystery, at least for now.
Is there room for…what, a bazillion coffee shops in Marquette? Looks like we’ll find out.
THOSE PRELIMINARY MID-SUMMER projections showing increased interest in NMU are apparently proving correct.
Freshmen registered for classes this week total 1520. That’s up 12% from last year’s 1357.
What’s significant is that the increase–a substantial one, at that–defies all the recent trends at NMU and at most state universities in Michigan. Freshman enrollment has been declining at NMU over the last several years, primarily because there have been fewer students graduating from Michigan high schools.
But now this. So why?
“A revamp of admissions and marketing happened just over two years ago and this is the first class of students who have been the focus of those efforts,” says Derek Hall, NMU’s VP for marketing and communications.
That may be part of it. And maybe Marquette’s increasingly high profile as a destination has played a role.
Overall enrollment at NMU will be just about flat this year, according to Hall, because of notably smaller classes in the last couple of years. Enrollment had been on a steady decline, and even President Fritz Erickson, in an interview last year, said the decline would likely continue for at least a few more years because of Michigan’s demographics.
Erickson will surely be pleased to have been proven wrong.
The final, final enrollment numbers won’t be released for another couple of weeks.
THAT’S A PHOTO of NMU biology professor Neil Cumberlidge enjoying this weekend’s concert by Kashmir, the Led Zeppelin tribute band at the Lower Harbor.
So why is that significant? Well, there’s a story here and it’s fascinating.
Back in 1969, in Leicester, England, Cumberlidge played trumpet in a band known as “Chalky and the Decoys” and they opened for this up-and-coming group known as Led Zeppelin. Actually Led Zeppelin had second billing in the show; the big attraction that night was the oh-so-famous Ferris Wheel. Remember them? Neither do we.
Anyway, the guy who ran the show that night later wrote that the Decoys “…were a great local soul band, brass section and all…who often played the colleges…lovely guys, very happy memories of seeing them at the ‘tech’ colleges among other places…”
The Decoys, needless to say, didn’t go on to fame and fortune. As for Led Zeppelin, well, they sold a record of two, although the Decoys’ keyboardist Jeff (he’s center, top row) declared that night in 1969 that Zeppelin would never amount to much because they were too loud and you couldn’t dance to their music.
Now, take a guess which of the other Decoys is the esteemed Professor Cumberlidge, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on fresh water crabs? (Seriously, the man travels the world doing research and giving speeches.)
He’s the chap on the left in the bottom row.
And now you know the rest of the story.
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