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Posted on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

University of Michigan nurses add to unfair labor practice charge

By Juliana Keeping


University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council president Katie Oppenheim speaks at a press conference in the Wolverine meeting room at the Michigan Union on Tuesday.

Melanie Maxwell I

The University of Michigan nurses filed an amended complaint with the state that alleges bad bargaining practices on the part of their employer, they announced at a press conference today.

The event at the Michigan Union was called a day before the nurses are scheduled to resume contested contract talks with U-M that fell apart July 9.

The two sides disagree over wage increases, health insurance and other benefits, representatives for the 4,000-member nurses union said.

The president of the U-M Professional Nurse Council characterized the concessions asked for by the employer as an attack on working women, since the majority of nurses at UMHS are women, and a “serious erosion of nursing standards.”

“It’s just not right,” UMPNC President Katie Oppenheim said.

Oppenheim did not provide specifics when asked what the nurses wanted from U-M in a new contract, though she confirmed they are asking for wage increases.

She also said the two sides have made strides in compromising on non-economic areas like staffing.

The last contract was ratified in 2008. The nurses have been working under the expired contract since July 1.

Nurses who spoke at the press conference said they don’t think the new claim or press conference will impact negotiations Wednesday, and that disagreements won’t impact patient care.

Patients can expect “excellent service from the whole team,” said Elizabeth Cheslak, a birth center nurse for UMHS. “We’re not going to compromise our patients’ care.”

The nurses filed an unfair labor practice claim in June with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on behalf of a 40-member vascular access services team, which in April was told their work hours would change without UMHS first negotiating with the Michigan Nurses Association, the group hashing out a new contract on behalf of U-M’s nurses.

Today’s move adds allegations to that initial claim, the nurses said.

Those allegations involve UMHS using concessions related to health insurance as a bargaining chip for nurse wages, which they say is a violation of state labor law.

The nurses also provided more information on an informational picket planned for Aug. 13.

The hour-long event will be a “sea of red,” Cheslak said. Nurses will hand out information on the ongoing negotiations. Some nurses have been wearing red scrubs and buttons to show support for the union as the contract talks stretch on.

The union is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and a member of National Nurses United.

Nurses who spoke at the press conference attended by more than 20 supporters repeatedly attacked UMHS for choosing to build new buildings and provide wage increases to executives rather than pass earnings to nurses and other employees most responsible for patient care.

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

As one of the nurses in question, I am disappointed by how many comments seem to view us as overentitled and expendable. While the rest of the UM may all pay the same for health insurance, they are also doing very different jobs. The contract disputes are about more than only health insurance costs. Nurses work long hours, on our feet, doing things that most people don't even want to hear about at dinner. We have worn more body fluids than you can count on your hands. We are exposed to infectious diseases, chemotherapy, "super-bugs". When everyone was afraid of the swine flu, we were the ones taking care of the sickest people. When you are asleep, enjoying a holiday with your family, or home for a "snow day" nurses are stil doing our jobs. At UMHS, the employer in question, when I go to work I never know if I will be permitted to leave at the end of my shift, or if I will have to stay an extra 4 or 8 hours. In addition to health care costs, we are being told that 4 or 8 hour mandatory overtime (after an 8 or 12 hr shift) will no longer be paid as overtime, that we will have less access to use our own sick and vacation time. I LOVE my job, I wouldn't trade it for any other, but it is also hard and worthy of respect. We are not just a bunch of whiners who could be replaced with new grads. Nurses with experience save lives every day, and new grads need us to learn from. It is not in anyone's best interest to lower the caliber of nursing at UMHS or anywhere else.


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

so go on strike or shut up about it.what don't u understand.whine all u want but you're going to pay more for health care and you know it and if the pencil necks don't get it that way they will some other way.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Eagleman Only night shift workers get a bonus. I work days so I don't get a bonus. And honestly it doesnt take much to lose said bonus


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Afternoons is anything from 3-11 then nights is anything from 11-7 am. Afternoons gets I think $1.00 shift diff and nights is $1.25 It hasn't been increased since 1986! They get a yearly bonus but it is vrey easy to lose


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

Can you clarify night shift? In many 24 hour jobs, there is a pay adjustment usually called "shift premium," an increase to slightly offset the burden of not working the old 9 to 5. Often there is an increase for what is often called "afternoon shift," for say, working a 4 pm to 12 am shift and even more for "midnight shift" like from 12 am to 8 am. Often the midnight (graveyard shift) shift premium is higher than afternoon shift premium. To call it a "bonus" to me seems odd. It is more like a small compensation for discombobulating a normal lifestyle. And usually it is not much, sort of measly. I think a lot of employees do not find it attractive enough to bid for nights, rather than get a day shift slot that usually requires years of seniority. At a place I worked the shift premium was the same for afts and midnights, $.70 per hour, which amounts to $1456 taxed additional income. You get a little more added to your retirement funds, but overall, not enough to lure someone from a day shift job, especially if you have a family. If you need extra cash you can get it with OT, which is often very available in 24 hr operations.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

I have worked for a county governement for 23 years. I make less than $38,000 a year but by the time I pay state, federal, medical, dental, life insurance, my take home is under $20, 000 and I expect it to go down more. I understand while someone making less than $50,000 a year feel that they should not have to pay the same amount for health insurance has those who make $100,000 or more. But guess what, the state passed laws stating that government workers will have to either pay 20% toward heatlh or pay the amount over a capped limit, this may effects schools and hospitals and state employees as well. I understand because my take home is almost $1500 amonth but I will be pay the same as people taking home between $5,000 to $16,000 a month. I have already lost money due to cuts in pay that equal $150 a month now will like have to take another $150 to $300 month in addition to more cuts in pay. Sorry, I think that some people pay at the top should be cut and given to lower paid employees or at least use a percentage to figure out how much that health insurance should be. This is a problem from the top down. I understand the Health Care program will give people a lump sum to buy insurance but seriously, how can someone who cannot afford to pay more than that get the same level of care then someone who can afford to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 for insurance. And before anyone says anything about going to school, I make to much to get a grant and too little to pay for school. I have supported my disabled mother until she died. Helped support my younger brother and sister while they were in high school and now helping a brother with a brain injury and a sick wife. I don't go out expect to 1 movie maybe every 6 months and the last time a bought something new was in 2001 before Bush screwed the people of the USA over. Rich get richer and poor get poorer.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

I agree with you 100%. I worked in a public service job and was paid well but I always had a lot of sympathy for people paid lower. They always attack the people at the lower end of the pay scales when times are tough and never those at the top. Those people pump themselves up by proclaiming they are so brilliant their pay should be astronomical when they are no more qualified than someone who would work the same job for much less. One of the most unethical practices in the public sector today is the outrageous spike in executive pay, as evidenced by the UMPD chief being paid $200k. AAPS superintendent being paid $245k., etc. The problem is they are the ones who make decisions, they take care of themselves and those who surround them and screw with the people paid less. Benefit premiums should be altered so that the bite in your paycheck bites everyone equally for benefit premiums, parking fees, etc. More people will be able to get by more comfortably and perhaps will not have to work until the day they die because they cannot afford to retire. I am not a union supporter but until management is fair I have to say bad management requires employees have the right to unionize to protect themselves.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

To Amy and others with similar suggestions: Ah yes! And we and they all will be just fine if: The Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Red Wings would dump their entire over-paid rosters and hire all those young, just-graduated, but eager college athletes to fill their rosters; and The entire country would send their experienced, highly paid brain surgeons and other specialized physicians into retirement and fill their places with newly minted doctors out of our medical schools. Experience? Who needs it? (Other suggestions would be appreciated.)


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 4:37 a.m.

If you are rich and you want more money, you're being "competitive" and that is supposedly a good thing. If you are poor or middle-class and you don't want a pay cut, you're greedy. The people on top are making more and more while the people who turn the wheels get screwed. We should all care about what is happening to the nurses.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

@beersnob: Not all professionals see the need to unionize just to get what they want. Neither have they the numbers and many just do desire not too. Professionals see what is happening in health care and they are part of that system that makes their benefits possible. I haven't read where other groups or organizations are whining. They aren't biting the hand that feeds them. As usual, they are not in the public eye, but they are equally important.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

Maybe those other people should have fought back a little harder for the things htey wanted


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

As I said above: And we should all care about the same issue for other patient care related personnel!! Nurses get attention as I said above because they are in a visible role; pharmacists and medical technologists etc. are not!! Nurses need to make the same sacrifices as other health care personnel have and who often are paid less but are equally important.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

Hang in there folks!! Stay the course. Since there is a bit of an identity problem and I know that things like RN pins, etc have been tried in the past. At Good Sam here in Cincinnati, the nurses do wear identfying clothing but the most notable is a RN sign printed in red on maybe a 3x3 piece of white cardboard and sealed like the ID badges are and attached to the ID badge. To me that certanly got my attention on a recent admission to the hospital. Good luck and my prayers are with you!!

Bob Krzewinski

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

In the past firefighters, police, and teachers have become the "problem" when it comes to why our ecomomy is in shambles, especially if they are union members. Now it is the nurses turn. Consertive legislation mills like the American Legislative Exchange Council absolutely love it when the general public points their fingers at teachers, nurses, etc. as being greedy and selfish. It just helps with the conservitive think tank goal of getting rid of unions and more important, seeing that any worker has no job regulations that could hurt the drive for profits. My wife is a nurse, my sister is a nurse, my aunt is a nurse, and my mother-in-law was a nurse before she passed away. Nurses are the backbone of any type of healthcare. They are there all the time for the patient and deserve all the pay an benfits they get and then some.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

Thank you Amy!!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

part two <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> This shows the median salary and a few other facts for nurses in Ann Arbor. Looking at these facts, I am baffled how you can justify that nurses are underpaid at the UM. I encourage real debate on these facts with supportable facts and numbers and not hearsay. "We are the hub of the wheel. There can be 2 to 4 diffrent [sic] groups of Doctors (specialties) caring for one patient. And we coordinate of all of them. Not easy." This statement is disrespectful and it also makes me wonder if you are a nurse working in the hospital. The hospital has teams of medical professionals taking care of the patients. There is always an attending physician in charge of the big picture and keeping track of all the consults. For the patients not on the teaching service there are hospitalists now watching over the patient. Nurses are not ultimately responsible for any patients. It is the attending physician or hospitalist that is ultimately responsible. Nurses are a valued member of TOTAL medical team. The hospital needs everyone including the support staff to deliver safe and quality patient care.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

Part one Gesh things are still the same here. The 'nurses' who are posting here are quoting numbers in a vacuum and stating semi-quasi facts as support for their case. They still have a messianic complex too and are really disrespectful to their fellow workers. @go blue girl "I took a 4.00 an hour cut in my wage when i came to the U. And the gap has widened to over 8.00." That really doesn't not mean too much to the average person. First I find it hard to believe you actually took a cut to work at the UM once you figure in all your benefits. If you did: was it because you moved from an area of the US with a higher cost of living index? You job changed? It isn't helpful just to quote numbers like you did, unless you are trying to be misleading. "And the nurses at that said facility pay 2% of thier [sic] premium. We are at 15% and they want to go to 30%." Nursing at the UM hospital is being ask to take the SAME benefits as EVERYONE else. The nurses are not being singled out here. "I don't see why we are worth much less than other than other nurses accross [sic] the state." Shall we just look at some independent REAL facts in this argument? I do encourage you to look at the links too. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> You will notice that nurses in Ann Arbor make above the national average. This information is current, August 2011.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Please, people are just tired of unions and their outdated philosophies. Workplaces are safe now and legislation protects against wrongful discharge, why do people need a dues sucking organization when they can stand up and handle their own careers?


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

I agree with CiCi. Nurses are PART of the health care team. It takes a team of doctors, lab technicians, housekeeping, social workers, radiology technicians, food service workers, and others in order for any hospital to run efficiently and take care of patients. I'm seeing the same elitist attitude and sense of entitlement from some of these nurses that contributed to the downfall of another industry in Detroit. Let's face facts. Any nurses can be replaced, even the ones working in specialties. New nurses can be trained to work in these specialties. Experienced nurses were novices at one point in their careers just like the new grads who looking for the rare jobs that exist in this state. Ask the nurse recruiters in many area hospitals how many new graduate nurses they've hired in the last couple years if you do not believe this fact. There has been a hiring freeze at U-M and many nurses will be retiring soon. If there was a mass exodus of nurses and the hospital began to have open positions, they would be quickly filled by experienced nurses and new grads. Even experienced nurses are having difficulty finding a position in this economy. I challenge many of these nurses try to look for a position around SE Michigan. They will quickly find out how tough it is and run back to U-M Hospital asking for their jobs back.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

@go blue girl: The HUB of the wheel??? That is arrogance and a slap in the face to all the other critical health care personnel whose functions behind the scene are equally critical to the patient. Medical technologists, medical records personnel, pharmacists, etc. Without those, neither you nor the doctors could do their job beyond providing passive pallative care. It's only because you are visible to patients and their families that people see the importance of a health care worker; no credit is given to the others who work behind the scene and rarely have any patient contact. A medical technologist in blood bank is JUST as critical to patient care as a nurse and has an equally skilled responsibility. Pay your fair share for benefits like the others - nurses just happen to be unionized and in the public eye. What happened to shared sacrifice??

go blue girl

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 3:52 a.m.

Steven, If &quot;most of A2 is&quot; just annoyed&quot; I am sure that they would feel diffrently if they were the one with cancer and some newbie nurse who is willing to work for less came in to preform a procedure on them. It is not like being a mechanic. And U of M is diffrent than most hospitals in that we have a high amount of specialties, Some of them done in onlly a handful of hospitals in the nation.. And Rob, Just because the university has hiked health care contributions for other groups does not make it acceptable. If the university increases premiums and seriously slashes our retirement, there will be a mass exodus. And you want a nurse at your bedside that is proficiant in her unique body of knowledge for her very specialized unit. I took a 4.00 an hour cut in my wage when i came to the U. And the gap has widened to over 8.00. And the nurses at that said facility pay 2% of thier premium. We are at 15% and they want to go to 30%. The retirement contribution that they are wanting to tamper with is a big reason many nurses are there. Considering all the other ways we are undercompensated. We need to catch up. I don't see why we are worth much less than other than other nurses accross the state. And they want to take more? There are not hoards of new nurses waiting in line for my job. And few qualified to do it. (fact). People would care if it was your mom laying in the bed. We arn't just a link in the chain of care as some posters have suggested. We are the hub of the wheel. There can be 2 to 4 diffrent groups of Doctors (specialties) caring for one patient. And we coordinate of all of them. Not easy. My point being we want to maintain the quality of excellent staff we have. We wont be able to do this if these and other issues pass. We arn't worth less than nurses elswhere. Apples to apples. I am proud to work at one of the greatest health centers in the world. I want it to stay that way.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

Maybe it's time for the U-M Hospital Administration to tell the nurses who are unhappy about their jobs and benefits to seek employment elsewhere. I'm certain the hospital would not experience any difficulty hiring from the large pool of unemployed new graduate nurses that have saturated the job market around SE Michigan and across the entire U.S. After graduation, many new nurses found out there really is no &quot;nursing shortage.&quot; They are eager to work to gain experience and support themselves and their families. With all the nursing schools in SE Michigan pumping out new grads every semester, the hospital could hire enough nurses to fill the 4,000 positions that these employees take for granted in this economy.


Thu, Aug 4, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

@ Ritz1, Your comments about an inexperienced nurse or doctor caring for a patient are invalid. Many doctors and nursing students have hundreds of clinical hours in training before they graduate. The have learned the newest and most up to date technology and research in school. I work in the health care field and see many experienced nurses that have poor attitudes and complain abut their assignments, patients, job, ect. on a daily basis. Some of them are workplace bullies and horizontal violence is an ongoing problem in nursing. If an experienced nurse hates her job and benefits, do us all a favor and retire or quit. There are plenty of unemployed new grads and experienced nurses that would be more than happy to work at U-M Hospital . I would still rather have a nurse with a positive attitude and really cares about his/her patients, whether they are an experienced or a new graduate nurse.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

@Ritz1: please don't lump all grad nurses into one money-grubbing category. I am a grad nurse from U-M who now has to commute an hour each way to work because U-M closed their job postings to external applicants. At St. Joe's, it seems one either has to have experience or know somebody to even get an interview. I chose nursing for a reason: to help others in their time of illness. It's a great feeling when I can put a smile on the face of a patient or a family member, or when a patient thanks me for taking time to listen and talk with them or for providing great care. Experience, while a very important part of nursing, is still only a part.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Wow Amy, I really hope that you do not mean that. Would you really like the full care of you and your entire family to be provided by inexperienced nurses as well as inexperienced physicians. U of M is a teaching hospital. It takes experienced nurses and physicians to properly care for patients. It takes experienced nurses and physicians to pass on the knowledge and skill necessary to care for patients on to the next generation of care givers. Without us, they could get hired but could not provide the care that you and your loved ones would need. Also, it is the experienced nurses that many times stop the new physicians from killing you when they write an incorrect order as they were just a med student a few weeks ago. Yes, there is a &quot;nursing shortage&quot; of &quot;experienced nurses&quot; as our bedside nursing population is indeed aging and our nursing schools are telling our current generation that they don't really want to be bedside nurses; that's not where the money is. They are telling them that they really want to go on to be CRNA's or N.P's. So there in lies another problem; these new unemployed graduate nurses you talk about only want to work for a yr. or two to get the experience on their resumes to go back to school. So who is still going to take care of the patients in the long run? I've been a bedside nurse for 23 years. I still love my job! There is no greater satisfaction than healing. And yes, I've been bitten, hit, spit on, kicked, called all kinds of names by patients. I work weekends, holiday, and miss family functions to perform my duties. But when you see the difference you make, it's worth it. I know many of my colleagues that feel the same. I fail to see the same dedication in the newer generation of nurses the schools are generating these days. The nurses that have the knowledge, the compassion, and the dedication make the University the place that it is today. We want to keep it that way for all of our patients!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

All of the nurses at UM-Hospital were novice nurses once. I have seen many bright and talented nursing students at U-M. I think it is sad that UM has their own nursing school but the graduates cannot even get a job in the Ann Arbor area after graduation. Quite frankly, I'd rather have a new graduate nurse with a positive attitude taking care of me than someone who has a poor attitude about their job.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.

I do NOT want all the newbies caring for anyone/anything anywhere! A good mix is always nice.

Michigan Man

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

Most people that I know in Ann Arbor are just fatigued by this matter. Could we please keep this matter out of the normal press coverage. Other than nurses at the U of M health system, most people really do not care. Clearly patients have more to worry about than the latest grudge the U of M nurses have against the University.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

I am more fatigued by the press' coverage of Kwame Kilpatrick. So should you. Don't read this stuff then. Or is it like looking at a bad car wreck on the highway and you just can't stop?

Kara Gavin

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

Here is the U-M Health System's statement on the return to negotiations: On Wednesday, August 3rd a team from the University of Michigan Health System will return to the negotiation table with representatives from the U-M Professional Nurses Council/Michigan Nurses Association (UMPNC/MNA). The labor contract negotiations, which began in April, have been suspended since July 9 at the request of the union. . The Health System negotiating team looks forward to returning to the table and engaging with the union bargaining team in an effort to reach an agreement on a successor contract to the one that expired on June 30, 2011. Throughout negotiations, operations have continued as normal and the parties continue to operate according to the terms set forth in the expired agreement. In the negotiations, the University has an overall interest in reaching a new agreement that includes market- and cost-competitive provisions, which will preserve the organization's success in recruiting and retaining a highly talented nursing workforce. Discussions at the bargaining table have been constructive, with tentative agreements reached on many important issues. UMHS stands firm in its commitment to providing excellent and safe patient care – the kind of care that has earned the Health System a spot on the national U.S. News &amp; World Report Best Hospitals Honor Roll for the last 17 years. We are proud of the quality nursing staff that are a great part of our history and ongoing commitment to safe and effective care. We prefer to not bargain in the media. As you might expect, we respectfully disagree with our colleagues regarding any connection between these labor discussions and the suggestion of negative effects on the excellent care and reputation that our nurses have earned over the years. We look forward to continuing the negotiations, with a goal to resolve challenging issues as soon as possible. (Posted by Kara Gavin, Director, Public Relations, UMHS)

Laura Wetzel

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

You apparently need to be more timely with your response to the media as it looks bad on the part of PR to have to post reply on comment board!!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

&quot;Oppenhiem did not provide specifics when asked what the nurses wanted from U-M in a new contract&quot;...what was the point of the press conference if she didn't disclose most of her grievances?


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

@eagleman: Ditto here! You said it well!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:15 a.m.

I have to agree with stimpy. I have had so many doctors see me and pass me off as just another number, while my nurses actually cared about how I was feeling. I switched hospitals during my pregnancy because too many students were taking &quot;care&quot; of me during my visits, and always having to check with a supervisor for the right diagnosis or prescription takes time out of everyone's day. The only doctor I had at UM that I actually like was Dr. Burke and I heard he took his services elsewhere.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

Stimpy, this is not about the importance of the RN's job. They do a very important job and they earn whatever they get. No one is disputing that--at least no rational being would. Honestly, I have no idea why you even wrote what you did because it has nothing to do with anything written here. I am criticizing the overwrought words of the MNA partisans on here.That is it. In no way am I critiquing their ability or the importance of their job.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

I would let RedwearerRN make the decisions that impact my health care in the hospital over the very many young and green MD's there any day! Dude, I am absolutely sure you have made &quot;Doctor's&quot; re evaluate their decisions and rationale for treatments/med's etc...countless times! All Nurses do! The best shocker is, we don't need to worry about who gets all the credit and the patient wins! SURPRISE to all the trolls that are here to instigate. You very likely have a Nurse somewhere to look up to. Try it. I dare you. Remember, there are good eggs out there. Despite what brings ratings in.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

Well, RedwearerRN, the doctors have as much to do--if not moreso--with saving lives as you do. In fact, you could not do your job if stockkeepers did not stock the supplies;the housekeepers did not clean the beds and rooms; maintenance did not make sure the energy was still flowing, biomed made sure the equipment get the point. Nurses are just one part in a structure that requires all of its parts to work in order to function. What good is an infantryman if he has no ammuno for his gun, food in his belly, and no way to get to the front? RedwearerRN, arrogance is the surest way to lose a debate. I am going to make a polite suggestion that you stop with self-important rhetoric that drips with intolerance and sanctimony and respond with words that sparkle with earnest concern and humility. You'll find that a much more productive line of attack in a debate.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

The point was to inform &amp; invite the public to an informational picket. At the UM medical campus. The grievances had they been addressed in a public forum such as a press conference could be heald or construed as slander. In all honesty we don't want more, just asking to not sacrifice what we've fought so hard for. Don't begrudge us for trying to maintain a safe work environment for our patients &amp; patient families. They deserve that, and so do all of you. Even if your opinion differs from ours. It's ok, your allowed to be wrong, we'll still save your life when you need us to.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

Strike! That is the only way to get their attention.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

The nurses need to pay their fair share of their health care cost just like ALL other U M employees!!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

Tha's just what Gov. Snyder is doing when taxing retiree benefits.... Same tax percentage no matter what the income. Same for state taxes... same percentage for all.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

Kathryn, no nurse makes $20,000 a year. It is more like three times that amount. I make $35,000 a year and have to pay more. Why? Because there are a lot more of me than of Doug Strong, Tony Denton, and Ora Pescovitz. The savings the U receives from charging higher ups more for heath care is a mere pittance in comparison to what they save by charging me and my fellow UMHS employees more. Sheer numbers alone dictate that charging us more is a financially more prudent decision. Now add the fact there is a competition among hospitals for upper level administrators--like there is for football coaches. That means generous compensation packages for a Doug Strong and discrepancies in benefits from the upper level to the lower level. Is it fair? No, but then the university has to do what it has to in order to keep its' well earned reputation.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:53 a.m.

again............ just because it was shoved down your throat, that doesn't make it right!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

When you ask all employees to start paying a fixed amount toward a benefit that was previously part of a negotiated compensation end up disproportionately hurting the lower-paid workers, while those who make more feel less pain. Think about it... if I make $20,000 and suddenly have to start paying $2000 more to keep my health insurance, I have just taken a 10% pay cut. If I make $200,000 a's 1% paycut.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

Really, Do you happen to know at all what the other UM employees pay, for that matter what the top executives pay for health coverage? I do. Pop quiz hot shot!!! Tell you what this one can be open book, use your resources. I couldn't when I became a nurse though.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

We should all take note when the nurses don't want to pay more for their health coverage. They must understand the real value of the service they're getting for their money, being insiders and all.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Just because it was shoved down everyone elses throat doesn't make it right. And the way the tiers are broken down is ridiculous. Anyone making over $53,000 all pays the same.................... NOT right at all when compared with someone who makes 10 times what you do.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

I am not in favor of single payer HC insurance but I feel the need to point out that in England what you pay and what your employer pays is a percent of your income. I too believe it is unfair for the lesser paid to have to pay the same for benefit premiums, parking permits etc. than those who are paid so much it is not even noticeable. One reason I feel this way is a lifetime of having bad management and seeing those people running up their pay at the expense of lower paid employees and the public.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

You are right I can't fight the cost of rising prices, BUT being that we are negotiating I can and will fight for this, I do have that option

Adam Zeeb

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

The same is true when the price of cars and TV's go up. It hurts lower paid people more. That is just the way it is. You may not think it is fair, but what in life is?


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

Dear Adam: Because benefits (health insurance, etc.) are part of a total compensation package. If you ask someone to pay more for a benefit, you have effectively cut their wages. Asking all people in an organization to start paying the same $$ amount for health insurance disproportionately hurts the lower paid them a larger &quot;paycut&quot; percentage-wise than the higher ups. The same thing's happening in the schools, and it's not fair.

Adam Zeeb

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Why should your salary be relevent in how much you pay for a product? Should nurses get to pay less for a new car or a new TV also? Why would health insurance be treated differently?


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

The nurses are just irrational. They think they should be the only UM employees not paying the same rates for medical health care premiums because of factors that are not connected: The new hospital, the wage rates of people in other roles, the profitability or loss in the health system. The fact is, all UM employees will be paying or moving to the same benefit premium structure based on UM paying a percentage and employees paying a percentage. Most businesses have their plans set this way and even the State model is now set this way. While nurses may have been spoiled in the past, they need to step up and pay their fair share like every other UM employee and most other Americans who see their health care premiums continue to rise. They will keep looking for and continue claiming unfair labor claims as long as they can, but they only continue to look ridiculous.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

My mother has been a ICU nurse for 30 years, albeit not at UofM. I hope if you are ever injured and sick and hospitalized, that you remember what you wrote here. Believe anyone who has had a personal experience like this, you would pay out of your own pocket what they are asking for if you are ever under their care.

John of Saline

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

The red scrubs aren't going to help with the perennial problem of identifying people in the hospital. There's no easy way to distinguish between actual nurses and other employees at a glance. (Doctors usually--not always--wear white coats, which helps). Imagine being an already-not-feeling-great patient looking for help, only to be told &quot;Nope, I'm just a tech&quot; or whatever. Returning to the little hats may not be practical, but SOME way of making them stand out would be nice!


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

@chubabuba: is the dress code hospital wide or unit specific? Is it (dress code) new? In my clinicals at U-M many nurses wore scrub bottoms with t-shirts. Of course they had name badges but oftentimes they are flipped or worn at waist level.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

They don't wear red scrubs, they wore red shirts for the press conference to match the union logo, get your facts straight, U of M has a strict code for what nurses wear to distinguish from everyone else.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

Ask to see their badge. It will have all the pertinent info you may need.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

The second guy from the left looks familiar and really unhappy. I hope they get everything they're asking for, I hope they get everything that they are asking for. I loved my nurses more than I loved my doctors.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:13 a.m.

Haha, You are a smart man, Doug. I hope the same for you as well :)


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

My name's Doug, is that you Jessyca? If so I hope all is well with you.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

Only if your name is Doug


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 11:40 p.m.

Uh, that's me. I didn't expect to have my pic taken. Do I know you?

David Paris

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

&quot;I don't know how I managed to write the same sentence twice...tired, I suppose.&quot; That's funny jrigglem, I figured you were just adding a little emphasis : )


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I don't know how I managed to write the same sentence twice...tired, I suppose.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

I was disappointed to hear about the media turnout at the press conference and assume &quot;the other headline&quot; of a very useless man getting out of jail was way more newsworthy today. Hence the television stations did not make it to Ann Arbor. Thanks Juliana for being there!


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

From what I can see of how hospital (corporation) is run, I would not advise the Nurses to give up much at all untill the Doctors are willing to feel the same level of pain as the peons. As is the normal in most every corporation, the people at the top get very well taken care of regardless of how the rest of the employee's are doing.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

I don't think people have an issue with the doctors wages so much as the upper management. Some people in upper management make in ONE month what I make in a year..... the bottom line is how many hours a day can one person work to make that much money?


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Yeah, the nurses are equal to doctors. That makes a lot of sense. You do realize that peopl with more skills and training should get paid more than those that don't.

Tony Dearing

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

Comments were removed from this string of replies because they were off-topic. Please direct your comments to the subject of this story.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

last reply my ealebud. I lavish in my naivety it keeps me stronger and smarter. Goodnight and have a good life. I wish you well and hope you get a bonus when you are in negotiations next year. It's gonna be a page turner.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 2:02 a.m.

@David Briegel: Why did you reply to my comment by repeating the same thing I had already said? @thecompound: Yes, if a doctor is in private practice, they are probably not interested in research funds. I was responding to your comment that doctors in private practice would make much more than they could at a teaching hospital. I brought up research funds because while these funds aren't part of a doctor's salary, they are still income as defined by the IRS. So your point that doctors could be making more money outside of the hospital rings a bit hollow. Additionally, private practice doctors have far higher insurance rates than doctors who work in hospitals. I'd say that some private practice doctors may make more money than their hospital colleagues, but it varies from specialty to specialty.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

Whoa! Eagleman just sounds jealous. What bonus? Where? I take it that your union members have different management then? Of course. I personally do not like being mandated to stay over on a 12 hour shift because we are chronically understaffed. I prefer to give safe and precise care. Why so angry? If you are unhappy with your union work somewhere else. I hear WalMart is hiring! Sorry, I may have misspelled this as I refuse to shop there.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Beersnob, so what is your bonus? $1,000? Your shift differential is $1.25? So what, that means you make $29 a hour instead of $30? You still take home $3,000 a month after taxes. Plus, you can make even more money by working OT or working at other hospitals. Nurses are in demand because of the nation wide shortage. That means they have plenty of opportunity to generate extra revenue.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

eagleman: You are always saying WE get a $2,000 bonus. Nights gets that bonus NOT all nurses. And they get that b/c they work an off shift and their shift dif is only $1.25 it hasnt been increased since 1986!!!!!!!!!!!!! Look at all other hospitals around us, they get way better shift diffs.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:45 a.m.

This is a ridiculous post. UMHS nurses are treated VERY WELL. Well paid with good benefits. This is not one of Carnegie's steel mills or the mines. Nurses are not peons. Far from it. They make $50,000 to start with plenty of OT available to boost that. They receive an annual $2,000 bonus, a healthly dose of PTO time off, and many other benefits. I I work at the U. I am an AFSCME member. We receive many of the same benefits as the nurses do. UM employees receive fair pay and benefits. Woudl I like to pay more? Sure, who wouldn't? But No one working here should complain about pay or benefits. I realize nurses have legitimate complaints and they are correct in questioning UM's parsimony when they just built a massive new hospital. (A new hospital that will add many nurses to the MNA by the way.)But the over-the-top rhetoric is beyond the pale. I don't blame the nurses for fighting to keep what they have, but the rhetoric does not match the reality. Nurses at UM are paid and treated well.


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

@ Mariella, I think if a doctor decides to go into private practice, they no longer care about the grant processes. @David, I completely agree the teachers get bashed too much and should be appreciated much more (as well as nurses). And like the health industry, I believe the administration is too bloated. What I don't like is the kneejerk reactions that doctors don't deserve what they make. I have two brothers and an uncle out of state who are physicians at teaching hospitals. They are on-call several times a month, get calls at all hours from residents and even patients, and have to miss many milestones in their families' lives. Not to mention the malpractice insurance and being ultimately responsible if someone doesn't make it. While I believe nurses are an integral part in patient care, it aggravates me to see comments like the above. And it aggravates me just as much when I see teachers getting slammed.

David Briegel

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

mariella, most doctors respect their nurses and their teachers. compound, I'm sorry, but in these 'new' times teachers seem to be under attack. Maybe you would wish to speak up for them, even if they aren't doctors. And just read the attacks on nurses that follow! I was waiting for the Irrational guy to say they were hormonal!! lol


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

@thecompound: If the UM doctors were in private practice, they would not be able to get the research grants they get by being affiliated with a teaching hospital. I agree with you on your second point, though. Most doctors do respect the nurses they work with.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

Translation: blah, blah, blah, Teapublican, blah, blah. You do realize throwing in childish jabs negates any point you are making?

David Briegel

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

So doctors are noble when they &quot;sacrifice&quot; to teach but a real teacher who teaches many doctors, lawyers etc. is a freeloading waste of air leaching off the noble TeaPublicans who are all noble and work so hard?


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

You do realize that UM is a teaching hospital and many of the doctors could make much more in private practice if they so chose to? After putting in anywhere between 16-18 years of education (undergrad, medical school, residency, fellowship), many of these UM doctors could easily double their salary in private practice but choose not to. Nurses are extremely valuable and deserve compensation and most doctors do not consider them &quot;peons&quot;.