ALPENA, MI – The posturing has truly begun between the Michigan Nurses Association and Alpena Regional Medical Center to avert a strike by the nurses. ARMC has filed a lawsuit.
ARMC is asking the courts to grant a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop nurses from striking, as well as prevent the Michigan Nurses Association from inciting, instigating or encouraging a strike which the hospital feels is illegal.
On Wednesday, October 28th, 2015, nurses at Alpena Regional Medical Center (ARMC) voted to authorize their locally elected bargaining team to call a strike. The strike authorization is in response to unfair labor practices by the hospital.
The contract between ARMC and RNs represented by the Michigan Nurses Association expired on Saturday, February 28th, 2015.
On Wednesday, March 25th, 2015, the membership unanimously voted to reject a contract that would have put hospital profits above patient safety.
On Tuesday, March 31st, 2015, the Michigan Nurses Association filed an unfair labor practice charge (ULP) with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission against ARMC alleging that since Monday, December 1st, 2014, and continuing to date, ARMC has refused to bargain in good faith. The ULP charge contends that ARMC has bargained with a fixed intent, and has been intransigent in its position regarding wages and medical insurance, among other issues. ARMC has refused to discuss MNA proposals on those issues, and has failed to make meaningful counter proposals.
“The hospital’s refusal to bargain in good faith jeopardizes quality care for our patients,” said Jenny McClendon, RN. “It is important to note that a strike has not yet been called and could still be avoided. We are asking ARMC to treat nurses with respect by bargaining in good faith.”
During a special Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, October 13th, 2015, it was announced that Alpena Regional Medical Center will be partnering with MidMichigan Health System based in Midland for $125 million.
It appears that many factors are in play with staffing, management and the proposed merger.
Full ARMC Press Release
With its court filings today, Alpena Regional Medical Center (the “Medical Center”) has asked the court to order the Michigan Nurses Association (the “MNA”) to comply with its legal obligations to not strike the Medical Center.
The Medical Center did this only after the MNA refused the Medical Center’s request to retract its threat of an illegal strike and to comply with the law.
Community health should not be used as a bargaining chip or as an effort to gain leverage in collective bargaining. We are disappointed that the MNA has used this unlawful tactic.
The Medical Center is a public sector employer and the Michigan legislature has made clear that the union cannot strike.
The Medical Center has met with the union on 15 occasions, including yesterday. Yesterday’s meeting followed the finding of the Fact Finder’s Report. The Fact Finder found that the collective bargaining agreement is “an excellent CBA from the Association’s point of view,” and that under the collective bargaining agreement “the RN bargaining unit is either at the very top or near the top of the wage and benefit scale on nearly all of the items discussed” during the parties’ negotiations.
We are proud to be able to have excellent RNs who serve our community and to have the ability to provide them the wages and benefits that they earn. Unfortunately, the MNA has decided to attempt using fear and uncertainty in an effort to pressure the Medical Center into accepting its contract proposals. We are hopeful that the court agrees with the Medical Center and steps will be taken to protect Northeast Michigan’s access to high quality healthcare at Alpena Regional Medical Center.
A hearing is scheduled for next week where Judge Michael Mack of the 26th Circuit Court will listen to evidence and oral arguments from the hospital and union officials to determine what avenues are available to each side.