LANSING, Mich. — Nurses and other medical professionals at Sparrow Hospital held a demonstration along Michigan Avenue today, saying they have been negotiating a new contract in good faith but the hospital isn't.
They say they are fighting for higher wages, safe staffing and stable health care costs.
The Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital-Michigan Nurses Association represents more than 2,000 medical professionals at Sparrow Hospital.
Reps from the union say they’ve been at the bargaining table with the hospital since the summer trying to hash out a new contract, but, last week, that contract expired.
One of the biggest issues raised by the union is staffing levels, which they contend are unsafe.
“We’re fighting hard for patient safety and safety of the workers. Every floor is different but on my floor safe patient to worker ratio is one to four patients," said oncology nurse Voncia Roberts.
Roberts and her colleagues say they are handling more patients than they should but hospital officials say they look at staff levels every day and haven’t jeopardized anyone's safety.
Picketers also say they want higher wages and no increases in health care costs.
“We are committed to getting not only a fair contract for us but for our entire community," said ER nurse Jen Ackley.
But Ackley says the hospital has been playing hard ball even refusing to meet with the union this week,
Sparrow officials say they offered a wage increase and other incentives and are looking forward to going back to the bargaining table this month.
“Sparrow and PECSH-MNA agreed that we were at an impasse. They didn’t respond to our final proposal. We needed to reach out to a negotiator and get some dates. So we’ve done that and scheduled to meet with them at least nine times in November," said Amy Brown, who is part of Sparrow's negotiation team.
So far, there's no deadline to have a new contract in place.
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