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Posted on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Nurses extend contract negotiations with University of Michigan Health System

By Juliana Keeping

The University of Michigan Health System's 4,000-member nurses union will go to work Friday without a new contract, though talks will continue through July 10.

Key differences remain to signing a new deal to replace the contract that expires Thursday, officials said. They include health insurance, retirement, overtime and paid time off usage, according to the Michigan Nurses Association, the collective bargaining representative for U-M's nurses.


The University of Michigan Health System and the 4,000-member nurses union will extend contract talks past the Thursday deadline, the groups said Wednesday.

University of Michigan Health System photo

“This employer has nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking their time in these negotiations,” said John Karebian, MNA executive director, in a statement released by the group Wednesday.

Members of the union include staff nurses and advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives. The average UMHS staff nurses pay rate is $33.74 per hour or $70,179 annually, according to the health system.

The average UMHS benefits contribution to members of the nurses union is $15,852, including $8,217 for health insurance. The monthly health plan contribution paid by the average full-time MNA member is $127.47.

The group is the largest union of its kind in the state, according to the MNA.

Because the two sides won't reach an agreement Thursday, nurses will continue to work under their expired contract, said Ann Kettering Sincox, a spokesperson for the MNA.

After that, different scenarios could emerge.

First, it’s negotiations could stretch on until differences are resolved. Another option: a state mediator could be called in to help the parties resolve points of contention.

If talks break down, a strike would require a majority vote from union membership, Sincox said. And the health system would be given 10 days advance notice so temporary nurses could be found.

Nurses have gone on strike twice in the past, in 1981 and 1989, after discussions deteriorated. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council first collectively bargained in 1976, according to the group's website.

The negotiations will not impact patient care, UMHS and MNA officials said.

The current contract for nurses was ratified in 2008. The two sides have been negotiating a new contract since April.

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


Chris White

Mon, Jul 11, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

I'm tired of UM stepping on local residents. If they stop investing in nurses, it's us the local patients that will suffer. If there's a strike I'll be right out there supporting them. And I'll bring my pastor and my whole church!


Mon, Jul 11, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

Saturday the teams ended on a sour note when the union was told that the university would not honor a contract that did not include the increased cost of health care to the nurses. That pretty much ended negotiations, and there is no plan to meet again this month. The university continues to show that they do not value the nurses, as they spend money on other people and things. I have never felt less proud of my employer.


Sun, Jul 10, 2011 : 6:45 a.m.

The following is public information and is the BASE pay of these u of m employees... Department Results for 2010-11 Strong, Douglas L CEO System Hospital UMH Administration $600,000.00 Denton, Anthony Chief Operating Officer Hlth UMH Administration $425,000.00 Warner, Patricia A Operations Top Executive Hlth UMH Administration $273,547.00 Calarco, Margaret M Nursing Top Executive UMH Administration $264,329.80 Dewitt, Jocelyn G Chief Information Officer UMH Administration $257,088.00 Childs, Deborah HR Mgmt Top Exec w/IR Div UMH Administration $233,398.00 Rizzo, Jeanne D Ambulatory Services Executive UMH Administration $212,721.16 Ladd, Carolyn Admin Manager Sr Healthcare UMH Administration $105,708.27 Gassel, Kathy V Exec Secretary to Top Exec UMH Administration $92,454.12 Last year Douglas Strong made $546,363.50 that is a $53, 636.50 raise... wow... since 2006 he has received a $110, 000.00 raise... who's greedy now?


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 9:43 a.m.

The American way is to negotiate the best employment contract you can. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Doesn't matter if you are a sales clerk, teacher or nurse. Some random thoughts and questions ( I've been told there was no such thing as a dumb question) JMHO, the elephant in the room hasn't been addressed. The cost of health care and health insurance. Doesn't matter what profession you are in, medical premiums paid by the employer and employee together seems so excessive. The million dollar question is what do we do about it. My question is how are UM nurses considered public employees? If they are public employees, how can they strike , even if they give 10 days notice.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Let me think........... where are all the managers on Christmas day? Oh I know they are at home and the nurses are still reporting to work....... And yet they seem to be getting the 10% + pay increases! And we have no money but yet they all did get a raise........... thats strange


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

UM has no choice but to reduce nurse's pay and benefits -- how else to increase salaries for the already overpaid senior administration and many of the doctors.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

The post by "Michigan Nurse" was excellent! The post by the PR spokes person Kara Gavin was very decieving. I would like her to post her salary and benefit level in the same manner as she quoted what U of M nurses are suppose to be getting. Then compare it to what the nurses are really paying. When patients are critical in other hospitals and they need a higher level of medical care to help increase the person's chance of survivablity U of M is the hospitial of choice. This is related to the excellent care provide by the Dr's, Nurses and ancillary care. Your loved one may not have survived if it wasn't for the excellence in Nursing at the University. Patient outcome is well documented to be in direct line with the patient to nursing ratio. Trust me when it is your loved one you want to have adequate staffing so that they have excellent care! Many nurses will not even apply at U of M related to the parking issues. Often one has to come 1 to 1.5 hours prior to their shift to hunt for parking. I have many friends who would never consider U of M related to this issue. This is the top issue for all employees at the University. But many of us would not think of working anywhere else. We have been willing to give of our time to find parking because we believe in the care given at the University of Michigan by all! It is a hospital of excellence. I hope they maintain their excellence by negotiating in a fair contract for Nursing.

Philip Santini

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

Ms. Gavin's salary for 2010 was a paltry $103, 000.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

I don't know where the person got their info that the average nurse makes $70,000 but I have been a nurse for 25 years and I don't make that much. I also pay over $1200 a year for my insurance for myself and two children. I opted not to cover my husband because it was 3 times as much. We have made concessions every contract to keep our portion of the premium low, including going to some of the highest co-pays around. I am fine with not getting a big raise, infact I got nothing this year. However, I am NOT willing to work overtime on a daily basis and not get paid for it. We have very little ability to get a day off as it is, and now they want to take that away too. These two items are deal breakers, I won't stay there if we give this up. I give patients their chemotherapy everyday and I don't know if I could strike knowing that my patients depend on me for their life (along with all the other awesome nurses at U of M) but I think this is what the university counts on. There is so much waste, $3000 each for the new "M"s on each building. All we want is to be payed fairly, keep our healthcare affordable and most importantly be treated decently with days off when needed. What many don't understand is that we have our PTO(vacation) time but we have to find our own coverage, ie: getting a co-worker to come in on their day off, to use this time. What the university wants is to take this away. So they also added harsher enforcement of attendance policies to this proposal because that will be the only way to get a day off. I LOVE being a nurse and will do it until I can't but burning us out and treating us poorly pushes good nurses away.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

$1,200 a year or $100 per month, is very low.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

The UM's Public relations is spinning this to suit their needs. I currently pay 18% of my health care premiums. That is $218 per month of the total premium of $1228 for my family of four. I have been a nurse for 10 years, have two bachelors degrees, and take care of some of the sickest patients. I teach new nurses and nursing students. I make 56,160 a year. Their proposal for the contract will increase my monthly insurance premiums to 368.40 - a 60% increase for me. That adds up to a $1800 a year pay cut for me. While the UM has built pretty new buildings and fills them with fancy equipment- there are nothing but Herman Miller fancy chairs in the new cardiovascular center!!!! And they want to build all this on my paycheck, while the executives are getting upwards of 10% pay increases!!!! <a href=""></a> Quality patient care comes not from fancy buildings and top heavy management but from the front line caregivers-- Nurses are the Michigan Difference! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

Well Spoken! I pay for insurance for myself and my husband (2) and pay almost $200.00 per month for health benefits. Where is this $6.00 that the PR rep mentioned? Boy I would enjoy having only paid that!

Chris White

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

I'm standing with UM nurses. They are holding the line on patient care by refusing to give up their voice in how it is delivered. An attack on their benefits will, in the end, lead to less benefits for everyone. If the University has all this money for new buildings, why shortchange their nurses?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

&quot;The breakdown of University-paid contributions for the average MNA/UMPNC-represented nurse is as follows: Health plan, $8,217; Dental, $529; Life insurance, $39; LTD, $284; Retirement Savings, $6,784 The monthly health plan contribution paid by the average full-time MNA/UMPNC-represented nurse is currently $127.47. A nurse covering only her- or himself on our most popular plan (Premier Care) with full access to UMHS health care currently pays a $6/month employee contribution to the premium.&quot; Holey Camoley, talk about Gold Plated Bennies ! These almost rival union public school teachers except the nurses don't appear to get these benefits upon retirement along with a big fat pension ? I have no issue with the nurses hourly pay but it is obvious their benefits are way out of whack with &quot;white collar&quot; workers in the private sector. The nurses need to pay more of their healthcare and perhaps give up a week of vacation time for those getting six weeks of paid vacation a year. And yes, the big dogs at the U of M who have been given big fat pay raises need to have them revoked, period ! Good Day


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

You do understand that the UMHS numbers were given annually for the hospital's contribution and monthly for the nurses, right? I paid $200 a month to cover my family under PremierCare and the expanded dental (the fully-paid plan only covers preventative services, not fillings and crowns). It's not a private-sector/public-sector issue. As an RN in a private hospital, I paid nothing for my health care or dental.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 10:47 a.m.

The comments here are (mostly!) greatly appreciated by the union bargaining team. Collective bargaining is a right that we have and use collectively to determine the work conditions that will best allow us to provide our patients and families with the highest quality care and continue to attract and retain the best nurses to provide that care. The support of our sisters and brothers in other local unions is felt on a daily basis. In solidarity....


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 11:44 a.m.

Hope the bargaining doesn't continue to drag out forever. It's important to be strong and not &quot;enable&quot; hospital administration. When you do decide to strike, I will join with you!!

Pamela Stevenson

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

Want death with dignity? Rely on a nurse Want discussions of a quality life and options besides standard medical protocol? Rely on a nurse Want an advocate who has no skin in the profit making game and truly has YOUR best interest at heart? Rely on a nurse Want a hand to hold when you are scared, ears that will listen and a heart filled with compassion? Rely on a nurse We are intelligent, educated men and women who chose Nursing over other possible directions to make a difference in peoples lives. we are not asking for More. Stand with us as we stand fir you.

Michigan Nurse

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

I believe there are some mistakes above in depicting what they are asking for regarding Health Insurance Benefit changes. They are not asking for a 30% increase, they are asking for a 50% increase. Currently the univerity to employee cost is split 85%:15%. Their proposal would change that ratio to 70:30! That is a 50% increase. I currently pay $200 a month, meaning my cost would go to $400.00 a month. The Public Relations post listed above is extremely deceiving. They are very quick to quote how little a single nurse pays for their insurance. However, the majority of the nurses here are married and many with children. A huge amount of nurses will be asked to increase their costs upwards of $600.00 per month. Our retirement benefits are the single most draw and appeal that bring nurses to U of M hopsital. (NOT health insurance, pay or PTO). I left St. Joe's, a place I loved working at, because I needed a good retirement package. I gave up higher pay, had to pay triple for the U of M health insurance plan, left a great hospital and co-workers, AND now get to pay over $400.00 a year just to park my car, so I could plan for my future. Now they want to take the retirement benefit out of our contract as well, giving them the right to change it at any time the Regents decide they can. For all of you who think nurses make to much money, are you complaining about the engineers at Ford? They too have a 4 year degree and make 6 figure salaries. Peoples lives our in our hands. Your mothers safety and care is dependant on my knowledge on a minute by minute basis. Please ask yourself what value you place on this. Please ask yourself if you would fight to keep what you have right now?


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

I wonder why Health Care cost so much &quot;The average UMHS benefits contribution to members of the nurses union is $15,852, including $8,217 for health insurance.&quot; Plus the average wage is $70,000 plus per year, For getting a 4 year degree in Nursing that is outstanding! I wish I was in a Union so I could be over compensated at the expense of others and then be able to WHINE about it! Ask yourself, Are nurses really worth over $85,000 a year?


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

@xmo....Nurses should be fairly compensated. It is only the unionized nurses that you hear whine about it. If they quit paying union dues, they would have all the extra money they are complaining about to pay their increases in health insurances that every other working American has had to deal with as of late.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

Well then you might want to look into that career ince everyone thinks we have it so easy! Come make the big bucks and get all those super bennies! Oh and as a bonus you can work Christmas,New Years,Easter, All summer holidays weekends. You can come do the job that alot of people dont want. Changing a grown persons diaper, cleaning up their vomit, monitoring them to make sure they don't die. Feeding them, simply talking to them b/c their family doesnt want to, spending Christmas with them b/c you are both there! And where are all the people who got those 10% plus raises on holidays and weekends???? Oh yes at home... I dont make $70,000... NOT even close! But I do get to work all those days. And I do work in health care and still have the cheapest insurance.... BUT yet the U wants to increase my premiums along with those people who make 9 times the amount of money that I make? How is that fair? And trust me we are NOT overcompensated almost every other hospital in the state makes more than we do, and yet we deal with the most complex of patients anywhere! They need to bench marek our salaries against Cleveland Clinic and OSU and CHOP just to name a few.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

Count yourself fortunate that you have been blessed with good health so far in your life. The moment you find yourself in pain, injured, or seriously ill, you will understand why a nurse is worth $85,000/yr, and you will want to pay him/her even more!


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Actually, that's probably not far off the mark. Experienced nurses can easily make the $33/hr cited above. Also, as a side note, advanced-practice nurses include nurse practitioners, CNMs, CRNAs, and clinical nurse specialists.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:20 a.m.

Good point by 1bit: The average salary probably also includes advanced practice nurses (something like a Surgeons First Assistant?) and a certified nurse midwife -- those salaries inflate the median average (what was used). I'm curious as to what the mean average is for the RNs and BSNs, not including the anesthetists. My guess is it's not $70,000, even if you include the total compensation through benefits.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.

The average bedside nurse does NOT make 85k/year.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Nurses are really worth over $85,000/year. But keep in mind that this is the average and includes nurse anesthetists, who frequently make six figures.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

XMO, nurses are worth more than $85,000 a year. We are skilled, educated clinicians. People are hospitalized for the skilled 24-hour nursing care. We're with you throughout the day. Your physician may round on you once, or you may never see the attending at all. Who do you think is responsible for your care? Incidentally, unionized and non-unionized nurses make similar wages. The difference is in the working conditions, including patient-nurse ratios.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

Some people see dollar signs, others see human digity, care, and life.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.



Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

Don't know how you arrived at that figure. Apart from the money issue, just think a minute about the value of people's lives. How much is your life worth?

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

Highly trained professional health care workers deserve to be paid for their skill and effort. As an uninformed outside observer, the nurses asking for the status quo with respect to wages and benefits seems fair to me.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

It might be nice if clarified what the negotiations are over and what they are not over. To be clear, the UMPNC is NOT, I repeat NOT, asking for higher salaries, free (unlimited) healthcare, more Paid Time Off, etc. From what I've read, the disagreements are currently over: -How to calculate overtime -Accrual of PTO while on a Short-Term disability STD leave (most employers, public and private, allow PTO to accrual during a STD leave) -A 30% increase in employee contributions to health care (or 30% reduction in employer contributions). (Everybody's favorite) (See yesterday's story) On Health Insurance: Ms. Gavin correclty cites that UMPNC members pay only $6 for health insurance if they only elect coverage for themselves. What Ms. Gavin neglects to include are the rates UMPNC members pay if they also want to cover another adult ($127 monthly) or children ($218 monthly). A 30% decrease in employer matching for an RN who covers their family would $780 a year out of their pocket. That's a pretty big hit to a middle-class family (close to a mortgage payment).


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

I've noticed the nurses aren't asking for anything. They just want to keep the current contract and not be made to lose what was agreed upon before. I think UM needs to find other ways to maintain their budget than demand that the already hardworking nurses give up a chunk of their compensation. I hope they strike if they need to.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

I'm standing with the UM Nurses. They are highly educated, medicial professionials that earn every single penny they make. Everyday Registered Nurses are exposed to HIV, AIDS, Hep C, turbiculosos, influenza, pheumonia, septicemia, etc. Registered Nurses are the reason we enjoy a higher life expectancy in the United States and why the medical care we receive (as opposed to medical insurance/access) is the best in the world. To be a Nurse in the State of Michigan, you must be approved and licensed by the State AND take yearly continuing education to keep your license. When you go to the ER, it is the triage nurse that is the first to provide you with medical attention. When Life Flight picks you up from car crash on I-94, it is Surival Flight Nurses and EMTs that keep you alive. When you have any surgicial procedure, it is the circulator nurse who is responsible for your overall care. The circulating nurse runs the OR room. When you give birth, your nurse it with you the entire time, monitoring the health of the mother and baby. Etc. Etc. Etc.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

Please read the following Free Press story. You'll see how our &quot;mutual gains&quot; operates. Obviously upper management doesn't want to be &quot;mutual&quot;. Amid tougher times, spending on payroll soars at Michigan universities. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

Thanks for posting the article. It has been a favorite as skilled trades and the nurses go through negotiations. Just to prove the point, one of the U-M CardioVascular Center's celebrated surgeons was overheard making this comment to a patient (since this is not a direct quote, I will not give his name): He responded to a comment the patient made about being glad he could come to Ann Arbor for his surgery to be done by the U-M doctor because of his reputation and skill. This doctor responded that he was no better than the surgeon in the patient's home town, but what made him better was his team. From the clinic staff (nurses), to the preop phone call (nurses), to the preop staff (nurses), to his team in the OR (comprised of nurses and other highly trained staff), to the people who clean the facility (organized environmental services staff), the post operative care in ICU and step-down (oh, nurses again!), he would not have the highly regarded reputation he has without &quot;his team.&quot; Regents, wake up! Your surgeons and administrators are not the only ones doing a good job here. Don't punish your nurses!


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

And the &quot;very best&quot; Coleman SHOULD want to keep are the nurses. Their focus is not on publishing (though some nurses find time to do that too!), but keeping patients alive and well. It shouldn't be difficult to figure out which is most important


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

Great job posting the Free Press article. I love Coleman's quote about &quot;not punishing people for doing a good job&quot; and how they work hard to find and keep the very best. Looks like this applies for those $250,000/ year and up jobs. Can I have one of those jobs, too Pleeeeeease??


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

Michigan has touted excellence in health care for decades. Nurses are the key reason for this. They need to be duly compensated. If U of M says they don't have money for the nurses, it's a miracle that the hospital can suddenly find the money once the strike begins. Evidently- the lack of nurses can bring big organizations to their knees. Hope it doesn't come to that.

Kara Gavin

Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

Here is the text of what we provided to today about nurse benefits at U-M, some of which was used in the story: Nurses are eligible for the following benefit plans: Health Plan Coverage (includes medical and prescription drugs), Dental, Vision, Flexible Spending Accounts, Legal, Group Life Insurance, Dependent Life Insurance, Long Term Disability (LTD) insurance, Long Term Care insurance, and the Retirement Savings plan. The University makes contributions towards premiums for health plans, dental, group life, LTD and retirement savings. In 2010 for the average MNA/UMPNC-represented nurse, the university will contribute an average of $15,852 for the combined plans. The breakdown of University-paid contributions for the average MNA/UMPNC-represented nurse is as follows: Health plan, $8,217; Dental, $529; Life insurance, $39; LTD, $284; Retirement Savings, $6,784 The monthly health plan contribution paid by the average full-time MNA/UMPNC-represented nurse is currently $127.47. A nurse covering only her- or himself on our most popular plan (Premier Care) with full access to UMHS health care currently pays a $6/month employee contribution to the premium. The cost per person depends on the plan he or she chooses and the number of adult or child dependents, if any, that he or she covers. - Kara Gavin U-M Health System Public Relations


Sun, Jul 3, 2011 : 12:24 a.m.

$103,000 a year plus benefits to misconstrue information in order to make it seem like *nurses* get too much for the honest hard work that they do? How are you nurses able to tolerate working in a hospital that pays $103,000 plus benefits to a person for this kind of public relations?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Yep we do get those benefits. And the 127 you are quoting is for en employee and spouse, and it is for U of M premier CARE!!!!!!!!!!! The one that is owned by the U so you have to stay in network and if you live out of state you cant have as NOONE will take it in OH! Our dental is horrible since going to delta, but that was cheaper than Met life You can spin it all you want we deserve those things and shouldnt be made to pay mre. Breaking it into the teird is pathectice b/c the 3rd tier starts woth people who make 53,000 and goes up why would I be on the same tier as someone who makes 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 times what I do? Thats balance!

Philip Santini

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

A measly $103,000.

Chris White

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

How much is the UM spending on PR hacks like you? Why don't you talk about how much benefits cost nurses with multiple dependents or nurses that live outside the UM system? Does the administration pay to cover dependents?


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

They are very lucky...