Nurses Union delivers 3,700 petitions to UPHS – Marquette, hospital responds

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MARQUETTE – Today, nurses delivered over 3,700 signatures to Duke LifePoint management at UP Health System Marquette. Thousands of community members signed the petition calling for safe staffing in an overwhelming show of support. The petition states:

I am signing this petition to urge Duke LifePoint/UPHS Marquette to bargain with nurses for an agreement that ensures guaranteed minimum RN staffing levels that are safe for patients, in every department and on every shift.

Nurse members of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) started circulating the petition in July. Nurses believe patient care is suffering due to unsafe staffing.

“Duke LifePoint understaffs and overworks nurses to the point that quality of care is compromised. Patients at UPHS Marquette deserve better,” said Scott Balko, RN and local President of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. “Nurses are fighting for safe staffing, and the success of our petition shows that members of this community are with us.”

Nurses have been in contract negotiations with Duke LifePoint since April 18, and say contract language that establishes minimum nurse staffing levels is necessary for the safety of the community. The two-month contract extension they negotiated with Duke LifePoint in late May lapsed on July 28 after management failed to address staffing concerns. Nurses are currently working without a contract.

“Our patients shouldn’t have to wait any longer. We are fighting for an agreement that allows nurses to provide the highest quality of patient care,” said Suzette Hantz, RN and local Secretary of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA.  “We know through experience and research that the foundation of safe patient care is the attention of a skilled registered nurse.”

On May 30, nurses provided a staffing proposal to management at the bargaining table. In the two months since, Duke LifePoint has not responded to the nurses’ proposal for safe staffing.

“Frankly, it’s outrageous that management has yet to respond to our staffing proposal. Duke LifePoint seems willing to compromise care for profit. Safe staffing is not a luxury – it’s something our patients need urgently,” said Stephanie DePetro, OR Nurse at UPHS Marquette and member of the bargaining team. “Nurses call on Duke LifePoint to bargain in good faith for a contract ensuring safe staffing levels in our hospital.”

UPHS – Marquette released the following statement this afternoon:

“UP Health System – Marquette takes very seriously our commitment to deliver high-quality, safe and compassionate care close to home, and we strive daily to create excellent workplaces for our employees. In regard to today’s events, we respect every person’s right to assemble and speak freely, and we value the input of everyone in our community.

We are unable to comment further because we are currently negotiating with the Michigan Nurses Association union to develop a contract that meets the needs of our nursing staff and hospital.”

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