Nurses need a winning strategy to fight contracts at Michigan Medicine

With the June 30 contract deadline for more than 5,000 nurses at Michigan Medicine just two weeks away, base nurses must immediately begin mobilizing their enormous force to prevent hospital management and the Michigan Nurses Association-University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (MNA-UMPNC) to ram through a new four-year franchise agreement.

Michigan Medicine nurses leaving a patient (Michigan Medicine)

Bargaining updates from management and the union show that none of the biggest issues facing nurses are being addressed in contract negotiations. Far from there!

Management continues to demand insulting pay increases of less than half the current rate of inflation, more staff cuts, continued mandatory overtime and excessive on-call hours, and the adoption of “incentives units” that will divide and pit nurses against one another.

Michigan Medicine’s June 10 bargaining report shows that part of management’s strategy is to impose a rotten contract and then use joint implementation teams to “resolve implementation issues and administration of the contract throughout the term of the agreement.

The June 13 union update admits that “redesigning work and reconfiguring units can make already stressful working conditions worse.”

But the union has allowed these changes for years. Now he just wants to get more involved in the process. The real objective of these labour-management teams is to isolate whoever speaks out and suppress opposition from below.

Work Connections, a university program related to injuries and disabilities, presented a report at the bargaining meeting and proposed an initiative that does not address the conditions at the hospital that cause these problems.

The local MNA-UMPNC organizes unnecessary events to push back another round of concessions. Instead of relying on working-class strength at the university and throughout Michigan, the union organized “allied” events to get local business owners in downtown Ann Arbor to put signs in their windows saying they are “united with the nurses. ”

Now, the MNA-UMPNC is holding a protest ahead of the University of Michigan Regents’ meeting on June 16 to present a petition calling on board members to help “negotiate a fair contract.” A similar presentation at the Regents’ meeting on May 19 fell on deaf ears, with the Board of Regents taking no action and commenting that it was “not directly involved in the negotiations”.

The MNA-UMPNC opposes any mass action by nurses to restore the achievements of the past and gain new ones in the hospital. The state deputy has not posted a single article on his website about the contract fight or campaigned on social media for support from Michigan Medicine nurses. Instead, the union seeks to isolate Michigan Medicine nurses and convince them that nothing can be done to stop management from imposing onerous new conditions on the hospital.

This is a lie. Nurses can and should unite with the thousands of Michigan Medicine support staff, not to mention the state’s broader layers of healthcare workers, all of whom face the same struggle against the healthcare industry. multi-billion dollar healthcare.

The MNA-UMPNC did not even issue demands on crucial issues such as wages, staffing and working conditions. It’s not because Michigan Medicine “doesn’t have the money” to support its employees. It is the fifth largest health care system in the state of Michigan, with annual revenues of $5 billion and profits of over $300 million.

Nurses are in a strong position to go on the offensive and win a contract that is in their interest and not that of management.

The World Socialist Website Health Care Workers Newsletter offers a strategy centered on the following demands:

  • Demand an immediate strike vote. The nurses must insist on a rank-and-file vote to authorize the strike and warn Michigan Medicine management that they will walk off the job on June 30 if their demands are not met. Reaching out to win the support of fellow hospital staff, university employees, students, patients, and working class people in Ann Arbor, across Michigan, and beyond.
  • A salary increase of 10% per year.
  • Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) calibrated on a monthly basis so that wages keep pace with rising inflation, currently at 8.6% per year.
  • Safe nurse-patient ratios. Hire more nurses and support staff. The hospital must improve conditions so that nurses can ensure their own health and safety and that of their patients.
  • End of mandatory overtime and extended on-call hours. Nurses are tired of being called heroes when they are treated like trash. They deserve a quality of life free of 16-hour shifts and on-call duty at all hours of the day and night.
  • Improve protections against COVID-19. New, more dangerous variants are multiplying. Nurses need enough PPE, facility upgrades, and procedures in place to ensure their health and safety at work and protect the health of their patients.
  • Demand that negotiation meetings be broadcast live so that nurses can see what is being said behind closed doors.

To respond to these requests, nurses must establish a committee made up of nurses and other health care workers. This committee must be democratic and independent of the official union, which is linked to the management and the Democratic Party of big business.

It will provide information and coordination to lead a serious fight for safe staffing, wage increases, mental health services, a massive injection of funds into the health system and an end to the subordination of health care. for private benefit. It will link with rank-and-file committees of health care workers organized across the country, which advocate for scapegoated nurses for unsafe conditions such as RaDonda Vaught and Michelle Heughins.

The struggle of Michigan Medicine nurses is part of a growing national and international movement of healthcare workers against decades of escalated exploitation and abuse.

There is a growing movement of protests and strikes by hospital workers in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey and India, as well as strikes by nurses at St. Michael’s Medical Center in New Jersey, resident physicians in Los Angeles and nurses in Orlando. Florida Regional Medical Center.

Rather than uniting nurses with healthcare workers in other states and countries, unions seek to keep the working class tied to the Democratic Party, which supports the capitalist profit system. Capitalism views health care as a commodity to be bought and sold for profit. Nurses are in a political struggle to make health care a social right based on the needs of the population and not on the enrichment of the few.

To discuss these issues and organize the fight necessary to win, email [email protected] or call us at 260-833-7383.

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