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Posted on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

University of Michigan opens contract at request of nurses union to draft 5-year agreement

By Amy Biolchini

At the request of the Michigan Nurses Association, the University of Michigan has opened its nurses union contract more than a year before it was set to expire and the two parties have reached a tentative agreement.

The two parties reached the agreement Wednesday, and the Michigan Nurses Association notified the employees it represents in the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council of the new agreement Thursday.


University of Michigan nurses represented by the Michigan Nurses Association protest in 2011 during contract negotiations. The nurses union has asked U-M to open its contract a year ahead of schedule.

Angela J. Cesere | file photo

The Michigan Nurses Association expects to vote on ratifying the new agreement next week. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council represents about 4,500 employees and publicly protested during the summer and fall of 2011 during the last contract negotiation session.

An agreement was reached in November 2011.

That contract was set to expire June 30, 2014.

“It was important to the union to re-open (their contract) and we were willing to open and engage in the process and end up with something that’s mutually beneficial,” said Rick Fitzgerald, spokesman for the University of Michigan.

Michigan’s new right-to-work law takes effect in the state March 28. Passed in December, the law removes the security clause in union contracts that would require employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

"The Michigan Nurses Association/University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council and the university have reached a tentative agreement on a contract modification,” according to a statement from Michigan Nurses Association Executive Director John Karebian. “As is usual during this process, MNA is focused on informing all of our UMPNC nurses of the details of the tentative agreement and will not be commenting further at this time."

Fitzgerald said the tentative agreement reached would expire June 30, 2018.

“It does provide a longer period of stability with a very important group of employees,” Fitzgerald said of the five-year time frame.

The negotiations included a give-and-take process from both sides, Fitzgerald said.

“This was a re-opening of the contract, not just an extension,” he said. “Other matters were discussed and other agreements were reached.”

U-M was approached by three other unions to re-open their contracts, and has reached a tentative agreement with one of them, Fitzgerald said. A contract with the Lecturers Employee Organization was set to expire this spring and U-M has reached a tentative five-year agreement for a new contract with them, Fitzgerald said.

Unions across much of Southeast Michigan have been approaching employers with requests to quickly negotiate extended contracts to defer the initial effects of the right-to-work law, said Derk Wilcox, a lawyer for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Some unions representing employees of Washtenaw County have asked county administration similar requests, and county staff is working to re-negotiate about 15 union contracts before the Board of Commissioners meeting March 20.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 11:04 a.m.

ahhh, my wife cant wait to GET OUT OF THE NURSES UNION!!!


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:27 a.m.

Unions again cicumvent democracy and willingly deny non union citizens the right to contain costs that continue to increase while revenue sources decrease. Union bullying at it's best.

Mackinac Straits

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

Kudos to the Union and the University of Michigan for apparently successfully conspiring to strip the newly granted employee rights from its membership. The flurry of renegotiated public employee union contracts simply proves correct the proponents of Right to Work in that these unions basically negotiate contracts with themselves, to the detriment of the employees and the the taxpayers. Contracts get renegotiated when the economic circumstances changes. After having fought for decades any contract restructures, now there is a flood of them. The only economics situation that has changed is that of the union leadership. Knowing the steady stream of cash from conscripted dues is about to end, and likely end their cushy positions, they need to rush to lock down that revenue stream. What a crock. The Regents of the University of Michigan would do well to act like Leaders and Best, and stand up for the working men and women in their employ and reject these renegotiated contracts.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

I am also a nurse at UM and was VERY incensed that our union has done this totally behind out backs. There was NO notice that these negotiations were even being opened. The article states that "This was a re-opening of the contract, not just an extension," he said. "Other matters were discussed and other agreements were reached." If that is truly the case, why were the nurses who make up the union not informed so that we could have some say in what "other matters" were to be discussed? The current contract is not a great one. Many things were lost, many things were never discussed. Several classifications of nurses at UM are underrepresented by this contract. Many of us had great hope that in a year's time we might be able to move forward and make good changes to the contract. Now it would appear that we are stuck for FIVE years with what we have. Also, what "other matters" were even discussed? What did our union give up? Or what did they fight for and get? In "normal" contract negotiations we are provided updates as to what is being talked about. This was a SECRET, kept from the entire union body. WHY? And why won't they tell us what was discussed? We must wait until next week and attend an informational session (held only over three days, and that is also the only opportunity you have to vote) in order to find out. I have found myself becoming more politically conservative over the years and supported the RTW legislation, though I fully intended to continue to pay my union dues. I believe that since I was being represented, I should pay for that representation. Now I am so angry, and feel so strongly that my best interests are no longer being considered, that I am not certain I want to continue paying said dues. But because of this sneaky tactic, I will be forced to for another five years (leaving is not an option).


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

We have the option of voting this down. I would think that the old contract would then remain in effect. I could be wrong... A NO vote would send a very strong message.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

I read recently that most union members in the U.S. never voted for the person running their union. If true that is disturbing... as our the remarks here by LizMurdo.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 10:52 a.m.

When the legislature back-doored Right To Work in place with last minute placement and attaching an appropriation to block challenges why are people critical of Unions using legit tactics to get around the law. Those members of a work place that are against unions can always reject union benefits. Let them reject overtime pay, healthcare, grievance procedures, work place safety, lunch and break time, etc..


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

You don't need a union to have those rights

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

I am not in a union and I receive all of those benefits per federal and state law. And if I want to buy an election, I can make my own campaign contribution.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:51 a.m.

If political spending/donations by unions could just be banned......

Jay Thomas

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

In one state, California, the Nurse's union spent hundreds of millions to blanket every media outlet, and defeated any cutbacks being planned there. You can see why they want the dues money... to control the political process.

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

But they bought quite a few elections locally.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

And corporations. And billionaires. And millionaires. And anyone who disagrees with my point of view. But free speech includes the ability to spend money for your preferred candidate. And, for what it's worth, unions were outspent in the last election cycle.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

When the top 20% of incomes in this country own 89% of the wealth, just exactly why are Unions bad? Without a union, the Walton family's net worth equals the combined income of the bottom 40% of people in this country. Their workers are paid so little that 80% qualify for public assistance which we pay from our taxes. So, every year a chunk of my taxes go to increase the wealth of the seven Walton families. This makes great sense to me! The rich are getting richer with the help of their anti-union dupes. This country is quickly becoming third world. Definition of third world is a huge difference in wealth between the rich and poor.

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

The top 20% of incomes includes a lot of unionized school administrators, teachers, nurses, and tradesmen. It's clear who has been duped with this meaningless statistic.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Sorry leaguebus, but what do you suppose those "evil" 20% do with their money? Stuff it under mattresses? They spend it (good for the economy), give it away through charities and foundations or invest it to create other businesses or new jobs. And by doing that, they create more wealth for themselves and others. Oh, yeah, I know they build factories in China. And then the Chinese, you got it, lend that money back to the US so we can continue our "Gov't knows best" ways. Are some of the 20% greedy or evil? I'm sure there of it just as I'm sure there are some evil and greed in the 89%. And by the way, Wal-Mart has probably done more to improve the lot for the poor then all the government programs combined. Without them, a lot of poorer families wouldn't be able to afford some of the conveniences of modern America. If you don't understand this you are unfortunately ignorant of how an economy works. I only wish I was even in the top 30% but someday I hope to get there.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 6:28 a.m.

You should spend ten minutes in a third-world country outside of the ruling elite, then come back here and tell us how everything compares.

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:42 a.m.

Do not compare unskilled part-time Walmart workers with skilled union workers. You could unionize Walmart, and they would still be unskilled. Non-union workers with the same skill, expertise, and work ethic make comparable wages to union workers.

Roger Kuhlman

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Shame on the elites of Union leadership and University of Michigan for signing a contract a year early just so they can deny Nurses at UM Hospital the right to decide for themselves whether they want to pay fees to the Union Leadership to run political campaigns. Actions like these that prohibit free choice are anti-worker.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Remember it hasn't been signed yet. Membership gets to vote...this coming week..You must be present to vote...Notification March 15th- Voting March 20, 21 and 22....I for one will be voting NO....


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Could not have said it better. Thank you


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

Another union trying to circumvent the law.............


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

As a union member this announcement came as a VERY big surprise. Open and reading an email that states the UM and UMPNC/MNA have reached a tentative agreement and contract extension. There has been no indication that this was happening at the member level, no input on revisions or changes were sought from membership. This was down very quietly and sprung on the membership last night. Meetings and voting will be next week. I for one, am very disappointed with union leadership, and feel this was sneaky, deceptive and underhanded. I did vote for the "right to work" law, and feel that this is the unions way of ensuring that those who wish to exercise their "right to work" can not do so for at least another five years. I will be voting NO on this revision, as it included no input from membership.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

Spambot- you are correct...proposition was what I meant. I vote opposite of the unions persuasion. I believe in the right to work...


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

@NRTG: What vote exactly did you cast in November? If you're talking about the propositions - then they are not what you are saying they were.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Correction....I voted in november to be "allowed the right to choose" whether or not I wanted to join a Union. SpamBot1- I am part of the my choice to practice at the UM....but I do not support the Union's political and philosophical agenda. If you are a nurse at the UM were you aware that Union Leadership had opened up contract negotiations?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:19 a.m.

@NRTG: You are welcome to vote no on the contract. You didn't "vote for" the right to work law unless you're in the state legislature. And, personally, I'd be completely fine if you could opt out of union dues as long as you couldn't have union representation or the union contract (i.e. you were truly on your own). That would seem fair to me.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

I have been for the past 26 years, a part of the union. I was not given the choice, either join the union or find another place to practice. The UM offered me the career path that no other institution at the time could offer, so I took it, knowing that I would have to pay my dues, but that did not mean I had to support the unions political ideology. Yes, I have been a dues paying union member since 1987. I just feel I should have the choice as a professional to choose who I pay dues to.....

Roger Kuhlman

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

Unions today are mostly about the pampered elites of their leadership and not employee rights.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Sure, you're part of the union.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

I support the nurses and the university in extending their contract. It is not against the law. It was negotiated in good-faith. Both parties benefit. If the nurses do not want to continue to support the union, they can just vote it down.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:54 a.m.

If this was good faith then why did membership, not know this was happening? What changes did membership want? I don't recall being asked since negotiations in 2011. So who was this for the membership or union leadership? If you are a nurse at the UM did you know about this before last evening? I am a "professional" nurse first and then a union member. Not a professional union member.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

Of course both parties benefit. The taxpayers who have to foot the bill aren't one of the "parties."


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11 p.m.

I will withold further comments until all the details come out but aren't you all sick of this garbage? Whether it's school nurses, teachers,or other "public servants" holding signs such as "Taking a stand for our patients." Give me abreak. If these people think that walking around a building with signs propped up will endear themselves to the general pulbic, they ought to re-think their strategies.

Bob Krzewinski

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

Greedy, overpaid, selfish nurses!!! For those who like to utter such things, just tell them that to their face when you have been admitted into a hospital for life threatening health problems and they are taking care of you 24 hours a day.

Mr. Ed

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

What the heck is the AMA? Just another form of a union. To be a professional you need to have or be required to have a license to practice, You need to have a profession group represent you, AMA, Nurse's Union, the Bar Association. Union's are not a bad thing in a democratic society.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

God forbid that we violate their right to not be offended.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

@Macabre Sunset - Why can't a nurse be "truly professional" and part of a union? Your sweeping generalizations are your opinions, but realize you might offend a lot of hard-working, professional union members.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

Or, more commonly, when you're admitted to the hospital for a minor problem and leave with a staph infection from poor sanitation or potentially deadly side effects from being given the wrong medication or dosage.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

If they were truly professionals, they wouldn't belong to a union anyway. Unions sap away any desire to actually work on behalf of a customer or a patient.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

Will they be re-negotiating this little gem from the nurse's contract? "Employees will not be summarily discharged for diverting substances from the Employer." Would your employer give you a second chance if you got caught STEALING from the office-especially stealing prescription drugs that are supposed to go to patients? Would you like your friends or loved ones to be treated by a nurse who has been caught doing that?

Basic Bob

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

I agree with the employer granting time off and even paying for treatment. After treatment, you are on your second and last chance. Theft or "diversion" is grounds for a lengthy suspension or termination.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

It also requires them to be given drug treatment (at the employer's, of course), rather than being fired. Obviously, they wouldn't need treatment if they are were juts arguing that the accusation is false.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Other parts of the contract allow nurses to argue that an allegation is false. There wouldn't be any need for a special provision only about stealing drugs. What it says is that they may not be dismissed just for stealing drugs...even if they are shown guilty. It's talking about the punishment that occurs after the process, not the process itself. Obviously there is no "constitutional right" to not get fired for stealing drugs. If there were, they wouldn't need to write it in the contract.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

Your "little gem" only guarantees due process to a nurse that is accused of stealing substances. It allows a nurse, through the union, to argue that the charges are false. It's one of those constitutional rights that our founders valued, and so too the unions and the nurses of the union, which is why it is included in the contract. All employees should have due process.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

Isn't it great to another case of a public entity negotiating FOR their workers! Why do you need unions when the boss is doing your bargaining for you? Disgraceful. If this was their money the U would not give it away so easily!


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

How do you know it is disgraceful?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

These groups might consider themselves crafty at the moment, slipping in under the deadlines to re-negotiate contracts that have yet to need renewal. However, time marches on. In five years, there will be no recourse here. The animosity being created as these groups thumb their noses at voters will not be forgotten next election cycle. There should be no doubt that these groups plan on using their members money (coerced out of them, of course) to "buy" elected officials. Average citizens beware: These groups are out for themselves, at *your* expense. You are not part of their group. They are not fighting for you. They are fighting for you, what they want is part of a fixed pie - meaning, you will have to give up some in order for them to get some.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

They are hoping to take the menbers money, put it behind a union backed candidate, and try to over turn. Just buying time on your dime...............

Stephen Landes

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

We need to keep a roster of public officials who cave in to this union effort, sowe can vote them out next election.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

*They are fighting against you, what they want is part of a fixed pie -


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

Too bad right-to-work legislation did not have immediate effect. Regardless, union shakedowns of its members on behalf of the Democrat Party are coming to an end.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

The members of the unions get to vote these contracts up or down. The members decide if they want to continue their association. Why is that a "shake down?"

Dog Guy

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

I trust that MNA members will delight in five more years of union servitude and forced support of left-wing causes.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

No delight here.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

What a joke, unions are running scared, I guess this will guarantee the dues will continue to feed those union leaders for the next 5 years.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

and the union donations to the Democratic party..............

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Derk Wilcox, the lawyer at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said most union contract negotiations in advance of right-to-work's implementation are occurring in Southeast Michigan and not in other parts of the state.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

Great, screwing over the taxpayers with stability.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

@Macabre Again...the sweeping generalizations. Not a single union employee in southeast michigan cares about their community? Could it be that the unions and the boards approving these contracts value the stability offered by long-term contracts?

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

That's because in this area, our public bodies (Universities, government) have no interest in representing the people who actually pay for the contracts.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

I'd be surprised if there were very many contracts in the other parts of the state.

harry b

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

I love the right to work law.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

Kudos to the AATA, Washtenaw County and now the U of Michigan for negotiating with their employees in good faith, which is how labor/management partnerships are supposed to work. No thanks to anti-union, anti-worker Mayor John Hieftje and City leadership for not doing the same.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Kudos for negotiating with their employees in good faith? The employees that are members of the UMPNC had NO IDEA this was even taking place. I would hope that secretive negotiations are NOT how labor/management partnerships are supposed to work.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

Some institutions know the value of a strife free workplace. They also realize they can get a pretty penny from the unions by agreeing to insert security clauses. Legal, fairly negotiated, voted-on, mutually-beneficial contracts = Anger from posters I don't' get it.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:09 p.m.

This will probably be the only thing I ever applaud Hieftje for!