Nurses union continues strike on unsafe staffing levels at UPHS

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MARQUETTE -- More than 24 hours down, less than 24 to go - and nurses are still taking their stand against UPHS-Marquette for safe staffing levels.

Gregory Kerwyn, an R.N. at UPHS, explained, "The only thing I am sure about is that the nurses will not give up on working toward safe staffing. We just, won't give up."

While strikers have seen support from all over the community, there was also support from local and state politicians.

"This morning Tom Casperson was here, and Rich Rossway was also here. They were talking with all of us and supporting our cause," Connie St. Amour said, also an R.N. at UPHS.

 State Representative Scott Dianda, 109th District Candidate Sara Cambensy, as well as state labor leader Ron Bieber were also there to show their support.

Bieber spoke to a crowd of strikers, "I just want to say I'm proud of each and every one of you for have the will and courage to stand up for those patients, and stand up for yourselves."

Though the nurses say they cannot wait to get back to work.

"As great as the community support is, and other nurses, not being in there to take care of patients is a missing part of who I am," Kerwyn added.  

The strike is scheduled to end at 6:59 tomorrow morning. The 7:00 a.m. shift nurses were planning on going back into work as a group, but there are some concerns...

St. Amour explained, "We're not sure if we're going to be able to go in the doors or not."

The hospital released a statement denying rumors of a lock-out. 

The statement reads as follows:

"UPHS - Marquette has been made aware of rumors regarding a “lock-out” at the hospital. This is inaccurate, and we would like to clarify with the community.
 
A “lock-out” is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS – Marquette.
 
As previously shared, we retained a nationally respected staffing agency to secure highly qualified replacement nurses during the MNA’s declared two-day work stoppage. A minimum commitment of five days is required to secure this level of nursing coverage, which therefore means we expect to be fully staffed with replacement nurses Saturday, Sunday and Monday – Oct. 7, 8, and 9. After these dates, our regular nursing staff will be back at work as usual. 
 
We have made numerous efforts to notify our nurses that we may be fully staffed on these dates both prior to the work stoppage and since its commencement Thursday morning, and we will continue to do so until staffing returns to normal following the work stoppage. 
 
We want our team back at work and will be happy when they return. In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of the high quality, safe and compassionate care that our patients and community members expect and deserve."

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