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Union representing Sparrow Health workers files complaint with National Labor Relations Board

Complaint alleges several unfair labor practices at health provider endangering patients and staff
Posted at 5:18 PM, Nov 24, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — A union representing more than 2,000 nurses and other medical workers at Sparrow Health System has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board today alleging that the Sparrow violated federal laws during the latest round of contract negotiations.

The complaint alleges that Sparrow:

  • abandoned the safe staffing concerns process in the union contract prior to its expiration 
  • interrogated staff about union activities and unlawfully attempted to prevent staff from wearing red to show support for their union 
  • announced a plan to restrict provider networks in 2022 for employee health insurance plans 
  • created a position for nurses at Sparrow outside of the union 
  • refused to share financial information with the union 
  • coerced employees’ legally protected right to strike, in part by making bargaining proposals that contained a threat to withdraw proposals on wages, healthcare and other economic terms upon notice of a strike. 

Union officials say they served Sparrow Health System with the complaint this afternoon but had not received a response as of 4:30 p.m.

Sparrow spokesman John Foren said in a statement, “We're reviewing the complaint and will respond as appropriate. However, we dispute all allegations in the complaint."

Contract negotiations between Sparrow Health and the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital – Michigan Nurses Association started over the summer.

“We are completely fed up with the anti-union attitude Sparrow executives have taken,” said Jessica Lannon, the union's grievance chair and a member of Michigan Nurses Association Board of Directors. “They keep trying to silence the voices of caregivers. Sparrow’s administration has crossed the line too many times and must be held accountable.”

Workers in the union have been without a contract since the end of October.

At the beginning of November, hundreds of picketers rallied outside the hospital as part of an informational strike and earlier this week union members voted to approve a strike if negotiations don't improve.

Members of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital – Michigan Nurses Association bargaining team tell FOX 47 News that some of the allegations in the NLRB complaint surfaced during contract negotiations.

“All of a sudden they were not okay with us wearing non-hospital issued simple masks. Just to show you, they were okay wearing this mask but when it switched to this they were not cool with that. Their proposal has a clause in it that says if PESCH-MNA serves a strike notice then that proposal is null and void,” said Jen Ackley of PESCH-MNA.

Fox 47 did reach out to Sparrow about the complaint and received this response:

“We're reviewing the complaint and will respond as appropriate." However, we dispute all allegations in the complaint,” said John Foren of Sparrow Health System.

Read the complaint here.

We will continue to bring you updates as this story continues to develop.

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Tianna Jenkins

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