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Posted on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 10 a.m.

Nurses to march: 200 expected to rally before University of Michigan regents meeting

By Juliana Keeping


University of Michigan nurses picket at the University of Michigan Hospital System on Aug. 13. From left are Geri Cooley-Howard, Valerie McNeal, and Connie Myres. Today, 200 nurses and supporters are expected to march from the Michigan Union to the Fleming Administration Building in advance of the U-M Board of Regents meeting.

Angela J. Cesere |

About 200 University of Michigan nurses are expected to march today in advance of today's U-M Board of Regents meeting.

The march comes in the midst of an ongoing contract dispute between the nurses and their employer. The two sides have been negotiating for a new contract since April; disputes have involved areas such as benefits and raises. Differences remain despite the use of a state mediator who has been working since August to help bring the two sides closer together. The 4,000-member nurses union has been working without a contract since July.

The nurses, community supporters and students will march from the Michigan Union to the Fleming Administration Building at 2:30 p.m. The protesters will carry banners with thousands of signatures of support, according to a news release.

Several nurses will address the regents and U-M President Mary Sue Coleman at today’s regents meeting at 3 p.m..

The two sides last sat down to negotiate Sept. 13; bargaining will resume on Sept. 21, according to information on the nurses union website.

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



Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:27 a.m.

Some of these 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 even related, e.g.: the new hospital building, the wage rates of people in other roles, the profitability or loss in the health system, etc. The fact is, ALL university 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 in their silly red scrubs. Those that claim they are the ONLY "Michigan Difference" or THEY drive an hour to work, or they comfort the ill they must therefore deserve special treatment are ridiculous. It's their job -- their chosen profession. Every individual who works has to drive to their job, carry out it's assigned duties, and pay for their health care. These nurses show themselves to be out of touch with current economic conditions and really with reality if they think they are entitled to anything. They earn a wage based on economic value and pay benefit premiums based on economic cost factors.

Always Amazed

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

I don't know why nurses should be treated any differently than other skilled, educated staff at UM. If they are dissatisfied with either their salaries or benefits, then they can make the choice to go elsewhere just as other professional staff would have to do who are not unionized. Nurses are a critical part of the health care delivery system, and experienced nurses may indeed deliver a better quality of care for their patients. However, I would ask the question: is an out-of-date, burned out, angry-about-benefits/salary nurse better than an up-to-date, well-educated, entry level nurse? I don't think that one should or can make a statement that all experienced nurses are better than all entry-level nurses, any more than all teachers with tenure are better than all young, newer teachers.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

The Hospital is not asking them to pay any more for their health insurance then the rest of the Employees at UMHS pay. Same with the pay raises. Our benefits went up two years ago, and the Nurses should have seen the writing on the wall then. I am amazed that they expected anything different .


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Fire all the nurses and replace them with newbies, huh? There's a reason why you don't want to go to an emergency room in July or August. That's because the new residents have just arrived and they are a disaster for the first few months. How do they get up-to-speed? It's a combination of baptism by fire and coaching by the patient and experienced nurses. They catch little things, like when a resident who's been awake for over 24 hours writes an order for 100 cc. when he/she meant 10. An experienced nurse can make the difference between life and death.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

If NASA wanted to, it could outsource astro physicists from China who have the same education instead of paying American educated employees far more. The truth is, in a capitalist society no one is safe from elimination. Did the quality of cars decrease after the unions of the big 3 were dismantled? No, what did increase was automation. If hospital's truly wanted to, they could outsource every job with foreign workers with similar experience, and the fact is, it may be the future. America will be hard pressed to keep providing the standard of living it does to each citizen, eventually it will resemble something different.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

Nurses unions yelling, "It's all about the patients!" Teachers unions yelling, "It's all about the students!" Horse feathers! We know what you're really all about, now be quiet and get back to work.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

I venture the Nurses are being asked to do more and more while the patients are sicker and sicker.That doesn't equate to you need a pay cut, or let's reduce your benefits...but then poor logic seems to be ruling every important discussion about living conditions in the USA.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

I like the picket sign, "Taking a stand for our patients". It translates to I'll treat the patients worse unless you show me the money. That is as good as the teachers saying give us a pay raise, it's for the children's well being.

April Young

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

What planet does xmo live on that he/she wouldn't mind having a nurse that's never given a shot before, or placed a urinary catheter (with experience in sterile technique), or know how to pack a wound, with the skills to determine whether that wound is healing or infected? Maybe xmo thinks all we do is respond to his call light when he wants some juice or some crackers to nibble on while he lays in bed talking on the phone, watching tv, and playing on his laptop. Does xmo give any consideration to the fact that GM/Ford etc. employees don't go to work every day wondering if someone might threaten their safety or physically or verbally assault them? Would people be willing to "get used to" lower standards of health care for the ever-increasing prices they're paying? (do nurses' salaries really explain why it costs $XXX to have a CT scan, or is it the price of the machine, the expense of upkeep and maintenance on that machine, and training for the employees who operate it so xmo's scan is accurate?) Attitudes like his break my heart. May Heaven keep him/her well and safe, and out of my hospital.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

that's really think the Univ sees value in firing All the Nurses-okay , let's talk "NEW Staff"-it takes weeks even months to train Nurses to the complexities of each and every job position.So, just shut the hospital down for 4-6 weeks and train new Nurses-Really great logic goin on here. Maybe you'll offer that the volunteers can do the Nursing jobs in the interim-what else you got up your sleeve?

Sam Smith

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Experience is very important. Nurses are taught injections, sterile technique, wound care, etc. in nursing school. I sense a hostility and resentment toward patients, "he wants some juice or some crackers to nibble on while he lays in bed talking on the phone, watching TV, and playing on his laptop" as in the above post and other posts by UMMC nurses. Not so sure about going there now... Please clarify.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

re > As an RN with 40 years of experience in a profession I Iove, I can unequivocally respond that yes, the quality of care would suffer immensely.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

This isn't about what skills are necessary to become a nurse, every profession has a skill set either learned by training or on the job experience. Do you think that if UM fired all of its nurses and hired outsourced talent for less than half the wage that the care wouldn't be as high of quality? The fact is no one is safe from elimination in today's job market, and to a money hungry hospital, saving millions in wages and benefits is something to drool over.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

A simple job search on the UM jobs site reveals that nurses start out on average at 30.00/hr, many in specialties make much more. Those who don't work for health care systems wouldn't even dream of picketing for increased benefits when already making that kind of wage. Health care coverage is already out reach for the majority of America, why can't Nurses who upon hiring have what most would consider a deluxe benefit package see how fortunate they are? My mother was a nurse in a step down (post surgical) unit for 20 years, I respect what they do, and the required training the must complete. What exempts nurses to taking concessions just like the rest of the world?


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.



Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

I have workes there for 8 years and don't make $30.00 an hour so I don't know what you are looking at but show me the way I would LOVE a raise!


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Maybe if the hospital charged 50% less the nurses would take a 50% pay cut.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Are the same Nurses that torture the "Underwear Bomber" by making him listen to Christmas Music? What planet do these nurses live on? U of M Hospital could do what GM/Ford/GE etc are doing and lay them off and hire entry level (!/2 the Price) Nurses. Care will suffer a little but everybody will get use to it.