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(Marquette, MI) Today, nurses of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association officially notified hospital management of their intent to strike on October 5 and 6.
“We have said all along that striking is an extremely serious decision for nurses. We want to be at the bedside caring for our patients. Duke LifePoint has made it all but impossible to provide the care that the Marquette community deserves,” said Scott Balko, an Operating Room RN and President of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. “We still have four bargaining dates and mediation scheduled before our strike. Now is the time for Duke LifePoint to do the right thing for patients – guarantee safe RN staffing levels and a hospital environment that will attract and retain nurses for years to come.”
Nurses have been in contract negotiations with Duke LifePoint since April 18, fighting for guaranteed safe staffing levels needed to protect patients across the Upper Peninsula. A two-month extension expired on July 28, and RNs have been working without a contract since.
So far in 2017, nurses have filled out hundreds of forms detailing the unsafe and dangerous conditions patients face in the hospital. Nurses turned those forms over to the state of Michigan for investigation on August 24.
“We have been negotiating in good faith with hospital administration for over five months now, and they still will not take our patient care concerns seriously. I’m at a loss as to how Duke LifePoint can flagrantly disregard these unsafe situations,” said Stephanie DePetro, an RN in the Operating Room and member of the bargaining team. “We’ve done everything in our power to talk this through. Unfortunately, Duke LifePoint has now driven us to the point of action.”
On August 29, an overwhelming majority of nurses voted to give their bargaining team the authority to schedule a strike. Since then, Duke LifePoint and management at UPHS Marquette failed to address nurses’ patient care concerns.
“Nurses are advocating for the safety of patients across the UP – Duke LifePoint is advocating for their profits,” said Suzette Hantz, a registered nurse from the Wound Care team and Secretary of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. “If executives from Tennessee think that UP nurses are going to just stand down and sacrifice patient safety, then we’ve got news for them. Marquette nurses will stand strong together until Duke LifePoint shows us that they care.”
By law, nurses are required to give the hospital 10 days notice before striking.