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Posted on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

Strike? University of Michigan nurses union discusses option while planning another picket & march

By Juliana Keeping

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University of Michigan nurses have planned a march and picket for Oct. 12. The nurses last marched Aug. 13. Angela Cesere |

Members of University of Michigan nurses union have started to talk about the possibility of a strike.

In the meantime, the nurses have planned an Oct. 12 march through Ann Arbor topped with an informational picket outside of the University of Michigan Health System.

A work stoppage would require a vote from the 4,000-member union. That vote has not been scheduled, said Ann Kettering Sincox, spokesperson for the Michigan Nurses Association, the collective bargaining representative for U-M's nurses.

However, members of a union committee that advises its bargaining team met Tuesday and had a discussion about a work stoppage, Sincox said. That committee, which has around 100 members, does not negotiate directly with U-M.

Sincox said the group asked general questions, such as whether or not nurses on strike would receive health insurance benefits.

“It’s not something that happens every day,” Sincox said. “There are questions about ‘What does that mean?’ and ‘How does that work?’”

She did not have further detail on the committee’s talk.

The last nurses strike occurred in 1989 and involved a membership of 1,800 nurses, according to the website for the union, the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council.

The work stoppage lasted 19 days and took Washtenaw County Circuit Court involvement to resolve the dispute that included disagreements over mandatory overtime and wages.

This year, the 4,000-member nurses union has been working without a contract since July 1.

U-M and the nurses last negotiated Sept. 29. The sides are working to reach an agreement through a negotiator provided by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission rather than bargaining face to face. No further meetings are scheduled, said Michael Steigmeyer, a spokesperson for UMHS.

The parties disagree on allowances for overtime, paid time off and heath benefits. U-M, citing a tough budget year and harder times ahead, is seeking to limit overtime for nurses and increase their health insurance premium.

The two sides have met more than 40 times over about six months, but have not yet hashed out a contract.

Sincox said today that the nurses union would provide a 10-day notice to UMHS if a strike were planned.

The march and picket will begin at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Liberty Plaza, 310 S. Division St., and end at U-M Hospital. Sincox said she expects attendance to top 1,000.

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



Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

So, who is going to be taking care of patients when nurses are not allowed to work past a certain amount of overtime?!?! Especially when the new Mott opens and many units are expanding in size?! Currently many nurses stay over because there is no one else to take care of these patients! I just don't understand what the University thinks is going to happen in that situation!!


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

Great... strike. Might get used to not having you around. Let the nurses that want to work take your shifts. I have read many of the other posts, and becoming increasingly of the opinion that its time to take off the silly "scaremonger lie" badges, ladies. Try the new catchphrase "Taking A Stand for Yourselves". That would be more honest, and would certainly get more respect. Just keep patients out of it. Good luck with that.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

The commentator named "Mike" has attacked the Nurses for using the slogan "taking a stand for our patients." Others, basically by way of agreement with Mike, have pointed out that the Nurses demands are purely self-interested and that standing up for them too strongly will endanger patients. I disagree with Mike, and I think it's his attack that is cynical and mean, not the nurses demands and actions. However, I disagree with the nurses using the slogan as the central one of this campaign. While I believe that wages and working conditions in the hospital bear upon the quality of care and patient experience in both direct and indirect ways, I think that right now we're really dealing with the latter. The demands for "overtime, paid time off and health benefits" are indirectly related to quality of care at this point (doesn't mean they couldn't become issues in the future, though!). But even so, the nurses are right to stand up for quality jobs. And doing so is not simply reducible to narrow "self-interest" or, what is being implied by that, "selfishness." The nurses are defending quality jobs and good compensation. That's good for everyone in the workforce. It's even good for the economy. This is what the Wisconsin protests were all about. This is what the Occupation of Wall Street is all about. This is what the anti-austerity protests in Greece, Spain, France and Britain have all been about. I think they should proudly claim that they are standing up for the rights of workers everywhere, for good jobs and to defend unions. That would be more honest than simply saying your "standing up for patients" alone, which is only partly true. Also, standing up for your rights, even militantly -like by striking- does not necessarily mean you "leave patients to fend for themselves." Striking nurses have dealt with and solved this problem in the past, with compassion and creativity. Support the Nurses! Defend str


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

There are several comments condeming the nurses for acting in their own interest. I call that capitalism. Its practiced each and every millisecond by corporate owners. If hospital owners can set prices for their services at will, why shouldn't the nurses be able to do the same thing? You conservatives out there seem to apply your confused understanding of capitalism rather selectively.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

I think it's important to recognize that self-interest is a basic human motivation, and nothing to be ashamed of, of course. But I don't think that 'acting in one's own self-interest' = 'capitalism.' Capitalism depends upon it in various ways, but it's a system of accumulating capital by controlling production and exploiting labor. Capitalists operate in there own narrow self-interest when they try to lower wages. But they operate against their broader self-interests when they so thing s like continue to process and sell fossil fuels (for example). Workers also operate in their narrow self-interests when they try to raise wages. But that 'narrow' self interest is broader than the individual worker; it reflects the interests of other workers in other industries, unemployed workers, small business people who need customers, young people soon to enter the workforce, etc. It represents the interests of a much larger class than the capitalists. Capitalism is the tension between the classes. Capitalism is war.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

Being a nurse for 30+ years and employed by UMHS. I have to say. You are not being asked to pay for anythimg more than the rest of UMHS pays for benefits, parking etc. Nurses have always worked holidays and weekends. So that has never changed, nor will it ever. You need to be reasonable and move on .


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Bring the nuns back. They won't strike and work almost for free. I think we all got better health care too. Striking UM nurses? Not surprised here. I say out with their unions and start working for what you already have. Nothing. Its what I have too.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

The nuns? Who won't complain and work for very little? Clearly, you and I know different nuns. The CSJs make the U-M nurses look meek. Nuns FTW!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

I support the nurses. I support their right to strike whether they use it or not. I think they should use it, if they think they can win and I will walk the line with them in solidarity if it happens. I think students at the UM should also support them with actions like symbolic class boycott, diag demonstrations, and the like, especially nursing and medical students (and professors, of course). The issue here is the decay of high wages and job security. The public (and private) sector has been losing ground steadily since the 1970's. Powers that be have begun a kind of final push to finish off unionized workforces. They don't mind most union leaders (who are usually pretty chummy and agreeable to concessions); what they can do without is the constant threat of organized workers who have the legal right to interfere (but only in a very limited way) with business practices. What is needed is stronger control of institutions by workers on every level, from compensation to control, not less. This is a fight everywhere and it's good to see nurses here waking up to it. Just like in Wisconsin. Just like &quot;occupy wall street&quot;(<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. And just like anti-austerity movements that have been flashing to life all over Europe and Asia recently. And sort of, but not &quot;just like&quot; the Arab Spring! Go Nurses! Fight!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

These comments and this community, the one that I grew up in, and have lived in for over 52 years, and used to be very proud of, now simply depresses me....way to stand behind your neighbors, I sure would never want to depend on any of you.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 10:32 a.m.

Once again, the nurses and their union carry their complaints to the public, who are not part of their contract negotiations. The public cannot do anything to help in this private process. It is also interesting how a strike helps with the nurses claims that their actions have the patients best interest in mind. While the nurses are on the picket line, the patients will need to fend for themselves. A union strike is as bad as a company lockout. Both sides lose and show the world that they cannot work together and fairly reach collaborative solutions.


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

The UMPNC (the Nurses) said they will give the hospital 10 days notice. That way the hospital has enough time to hire temporary staff.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

ON lockouts and strikes: both sides don't necessarily lose. Look at United Windows and doors in Chicago. Company locked workers out...workers refused to leave, occupied the factory...and won. Look at the Flint sit-down. Victory.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Oh, but they are part of negotiations! UM is a public institution, the nurses are public employees and patients are...the public. ON TOP OF THAT, bargaining has entered fact-finding, which means that both sides are allowed to publicize the issue. &quot;Going public&quot; is part of the process, written into the anti-strike law PERA (a law that workers should demand repeal of).

Basic Bob

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 9:43 a.m.

Regardless of whether or not the university caves in to the nurses' demands, the hospital will continue to function at the same level. The hospital management simply adds up all the costs, ridiculous or not, and passes them on to the patients. When the nurses win, the patients lose, not rich CEO's and not insurance companies.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

Bob, When the nurses succeed in protecting their wages and benefits, hospital ownership may chose to increase prices to protect their profits. That is their right as owners as it is the right of the nurses to bargain for their services collectively. Who then is guilty of the price increase? If the people making the decision to increase the prices for hospital services are doing so to protect their 7 figure salaries and bonuses, then I know who I am blaming.

Matt Cooper

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

The patients lose? I strongly disagree! I work in one of the UM ICU's and we have some of the finest nurses to be found anywhere. We have a mix of seniority ranging from a couple years of service to over 35 years. We have nurses that have associates degrees and we have some that are working on their MSN and NP. We have nurses that are more highly skilled that most nurses in the profession. I've said it again and again, and I'll say it here: If I am ever critically ill and need a skilled ICU nurse to take care of me, I would trust any of my co-workers with my medical care and I wouldn't want to be in any other ICU. When patients come to the UM, they are getting the best patient care available anywhere! This is why we have patients flown in from all over the country, and even the world, to receive care here. And nurses are the driving force behind that care. Let's hope you or your family never have to find that out from a firsthand perspective.

Joe Payer

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

I for ONE , Totally support The Nurses!! This isn't about greed this is about keeping your head above water. I work for a company and we took pay cuts back in 2008 and not one person stood up to the company. They laid down and let The owners run off with our money to open a new store. While no one in upper management lost their company car nor their precious bonuses , every hourly worker lost THOUSANDS by the year end. It was a sad day when my fellow workers started to loose their houses and merely all from corporate greed. We were lied to and it was oh so convenient to blame the economy to pinch pennys from the poor mans pockets. It will have trickle- down effect on everyone in Michigan if they loose their battle. Another piece of pie divided smaller and smaller. Do you think Ora who makes $720,000 a yr is going to be worried about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage any time this year or next ? or What about our buddy Doug Strong who also makes a whopping $600.000 for the year. Thats not bonuses or their 15% cost of living increase either! If these administrators were worth there salaries they would have noticed they were being over-compensated,before they had to fix their budget. Lets make the rich, richier and keep the traditional way ofkilling off our middle class or should we start calling it what it is ......working class poor. Shame on Doug and Ora for ignoring the Nurses 40 times! These are your employees! you hired them! Be proud and compensate them for the reputation they have helped you earn. After all, once things start getting to the point where the employees cant afford the services or products they provide , you start to question who else really can? Stand up MNA !!! Dont back down I think alot of people need this! This is not just a stand for Michigan Nurses this is a stand for all union affiliated organizations


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

Nurses want: To pay less for medical benefits than all other UM employees, to earn paid time off while they are off work on short-term disability, and to have a better retirement plan than every other UM employee. How is any of this fair or rational? They claim they just don't want a reduction in their pay, but the fact is, every other UM employee and most Americans experience increased medical premiums annually. Why should UM nurses be exempt from this? Why are they trying to create a special elite class for themselves at UM? The best part is their claim that they're doing all of this to stand up for the patients! Uh, what? Hypocrits! They are talking about striking - how will that help their patients?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Facts are facts. I work at UM. Nurses want better medical premiums than me, better retirement than me, and PTO earned while on they are on disability. It's even on their website. They want to be elite over all the rest of the UM employees. Their wages are also public record so your claim is also false there - there are highly compensated. Spew away your false info!

Matt Cooper

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

So, Rob, what you're basically saying is &quot;Well, my benefits and retirement package yours should, too!&quot; How self-centered can you possibly be? Instead of trying to bring them down, why not lift yourself up and support these people. Secondly, nurses at UM are on the low end of the pay scale in the state of michigan for all nurses, so how you can say they are creating an &quot;elite class&quot; is beyond me. Why not you try checking your facts before spewing misinformation. Finally, any strike is about demanding the respect and pay commensurate with their level of education and experience. Nurses are among the hardest-working people around and deserve to get paid at a level which reflects professional respect by their employer. Maybe you'll remember that the next time you need to go to the ER, or if you should ever have a family member lying in an ICU bed dying and needing the love and care provided by a professional nurse.

David Paris

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

So, what you're saying is that somewhere in their contract it states &quot;To pay less for medical benefits than all other UM employees&quot; &amp; &quot;to have a better retirement plan than every other UM employee.&quot; Then you're adding that logic dictates that &quot;most Americans experience increased medical premiums annually.&quot; and therefor, the nurses should follow suit? I see...


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

Oops - &quot;excellent care&quot;


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

I'm not going to take sides - just want to comment that I've been in UM hospital 7 times now and every single time got excellent by very hardworking and dedicated nursing staff. I hope this all gets resolved and the nurses are satisfied with the results.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

I only have one thing to say: U of M spent 25 million dollars for score boards for a football stadium yet they cite tough financial times right now.......there is absolutely nothing else to say.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

It's always apples to oranges when it comes to justifications as to why one gets more than another. Last time I checked the whole things still flies under the U of M flag. Sounds like all those wacky little &quot;buckets&quot; that the city seems to have. Go Blue


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

You are talking apples and oranges. The Athletic Department depends on no one except those who buy tickets to the athletic events and those who choose to make donations. They have absolutely nothing to do with the Health System finances. The building of a new Mott Hospital, which was needed very badly, has nothing to do with the nurse situation either.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

I'm guessing if your employer did what UMHS is trying to do to the Nurses, you'd be pissed about it too. The difference? These middle class workers can do something about it.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

Nurses or not. Union or not. U of M or not. Nobody should allow their income to be REDUCED, which is what these good people are facing. I don't care what you do for a living (assuming it's honest) or who you do it for, I would stand by your side and defend your current income and I expect you to do the same for me. It can't be the excepted &quot;norm&quot; to allow employers to reduce our pay, in what ever form that is. The logic &quot;I gave in- so you should too&quot; is weak, and boring. If I get a flat tire on my way to work then you should too? If I break my leg will you break yours? One persons (or labor groups) misfortune can not be wished upon others! Let's try this instead, the nurses avoided a loss in pay so we will too. Take a stand as a Michigan employee, a Michigan resident, and support ANY labor group, union or not, who is willing to stand up for themselves and the rest of us. The nurses are not asking for fortune, but are fighting to make the same tomorrow as they did yesterday, which is fair, and any argument to the contrary falls back on this &quot;but I had to&quot; mentality which is childish. Nurses hold your ground. Your fight is larger than just you, and be proud- not shameful, that you have the strength and courage to protest what other groups gave in to.

David Paris

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

Wow! Someone finally GETS IT!!! Well said 440RC


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

Something that the readers of this article and the previous articles need to understand is that the nurses are not asking for anything extra. We are NOT asking for a raise or bonus. We are NOT asking for our insurance contributions to be decreased. We are just asking that things STAY THE SAME as our previous contract. The University is asking that we take concessions on PTO usage, OT, health insurance, retirement, child care leave and has offered us a wage increase that in the end is a pay cut with the increased insurance premiums. All of the concessions can be found on the union website which is public, just incase the citizens of A2 have confusion about the issues on the table. Many of the nurses at UofM work there for the benefits and perks that our current contract provides. In the end we pay for for parking, union dues and make less then other nurses of the same level in the area but we CHOOSE to stay at the U for those perks. We also have a union to protect us from working 16 hour shifts w/o compensation, or taking unsafe patient assignments. On my unit, we have been short staffed all summer. Management can't get approval to hire more staff and so we work OT to fill in gaps so that patient care doesn't suffer. Believe it or not patient care is our priority. No one wants to strike, we just want to keep what we have or be offered something fair. Unless you have worked in my shoes you really shouldn't have much to say about why I think I deserve to keep what I've had for the last 5 1/2 years. I love what I do and I know that I'm lucky to still have a job in this state and this economy. When things got bad, we worked with the University to rearrange and restructure from within so that we could keep our jobs. A little respect and give on their part would be nice for a change!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

treetowncartel- Once again, a little give and respect from the University would be nice. The University is trying to take away what we've worked hard keep. If a fair offer included appropriate compensation for the hike in insurance premiums this wouldn't even be a discussion. The reality is they aren't even making a fair offer.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

Yes, but you have to take the new cap on health care for public employees.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.

Well said. Read it again people. They are not asking for anything more than what that currently have. Defend what is yours and ignore those who see that as selfish.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Fire them and rehire them in non union positions.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

Just brilliant snapshot. I see your beloved Koch brothers have been profiting off of treasonous sales to Iran. The 2 Koch brothers, Sleazy, and Slimy, share your union busting sentiment. I guess your morals are about the same?


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

Hey Meg, have YOU ever been a soldier enduring FAR worse than anything you could dream of throwing at us while enjoying FAR less pay and benefits than civilian nurses? Oh yeah. There's that little thing about possibly getting killed as well. Remember that the next time you ask us to walk in the shoes of the poor oppressed U of M nurses.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

To be a solider is a choice too...but I agree, another job that does not get enough compensation or respect. Why not stand with the nurses skyjockey? Obviously you are angry about your compensation!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

Oooooh, the oppression Olympics! Yay! Things suck for soldiers and other enlisted people too. So...what, the nurses should roll over? I don't get it.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

How many of you commenting have ever worked as a nurse? Or, for that matter, worked in health care? How many of you have spent Christmas and Thanksgiving having potluck with your coworkers instead of dinner with your family? How many school events have you missed because they're scheduled before the end of a 12-hour shift? How many times have you been told that you must stay after a 12-hour shift on your feet, because there aren't enough nurses to take care of the patients? How many of you have read the research that shows a well-rested provider is a safer provider and then headed in for another 16-hour shift? You don't understand what nurses do, or how we do it. What you understand is that you think nurses are demanding special treatment. Wrong -- nurses are standing up for themselves in the way you wish you could. Nurses are fighting for your rights as a worker, since you haven't done it yourself.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

I'm sure police, fire, and any other 24 hour business employee could say the same thing, but they all pay their fair share and probably aren't paid as well in terms of wages or benefits either.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

Meg, this is the problem, YOU don't know hardship or dedication, you only know minor inconvenience and perceive it to be true hardship.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

Using the nursing job description as a rallying cry really misses the mark. As Mich reader pointer out, 12 hour shifts, holiday work, overtime, are all part of the job and I think everyone knows that going in. I applaud those that do this job, I am sure it can be very stressful at times. However, that is the job a nurse signs up for,it's not a secret. Nurses are valuable workers but it is always hard to side with a union turning away work in this kind of economy especially since there are no layoffs being threatened. Many private sector workers have long ago have had overtime cut and benefit costs increased,sadly it is just a reality today. Nurses do a fine job but they should not be immune because they do work a lot of us deem undesireable.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

&quot;nurses are standing up for themselves in the way you wish you could. Nurses are fighting for your rights as a worker, since you haven't done it yourself.&quot; And that folks, is called sticking your tongue out behind the safety of a thick glass window.

Michigan Reader

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

Nurses are some of the most lovable people in the workforce--but they chose their profession, freely and I presume for the rewards that can be had besides financially. But they still, like the hospital administrators, and literally everyone one else, act with their own interest foremost in mind.

Michigan Reader

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

The nurses actions are, and always have been, about themselves.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Rob you seem to have missed my point. Nurses actions are not for themselves. Mine have never been. I don't enjoy those gross parts of the jobs but they come with the job. I am proud to be a nurse and it's not always easy. It is what I chose to do and I love it. Does that mean my employer should be able to walk all over me and try and take advantage of me because I love what I do? Or should I stand up for my patients and fight for them so that they can continue to receive the best care from the most educated professionals?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:16 a.m.

You hit the nail on the head Chelsea- its their chosen profession. If they don't like it, they can make way for someone who does.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

And you know this b/c you are a nurse? Let me ask you a few things... Does a nurse get puked on, peed on, pooped on or blood spattered on b/c he/she wanted to? Does a nurse get kicked, hit, sworn at or spit on b/c he/she wanted to? Granted, these things come with the job but so does the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life during a difficult time.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

One of the &quot;nurses&quot; has a sign &quot;taking a stand for our patients&quot;. Does that include going on strike and having them fend for themselves? that's the prblem with giving away the farm at negotiating time. you soon find that what you offered is unsustainable and then those you gave it to scream bloody murder. The economics don not enter into their argument only the fact that you are taking something away from them; something most other people do no receive. This is typical for both gevernment employees and union folks


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Mike, when nurses go on strike the health system is given advance warning and patient are displaced/surgeries cancelled. They do not &quot;fend for themselves&quot;. Come on.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

Where is your sense of solidarity, people? These are working people trying to win a slightly better benefit package from a powerful organization. To a first approximation (leaving out the super-rich, upper hospital administration, and insurance companies), most of us should be on the side of the nurses. We are working stiffs. They are working stiffs. Why tear each other down?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

Goober makes a good point. Of course there must be a balance and if companies can't make a good enough profit to attract shareholders, everyone suffers. But those of you who say, &quot;I don't have it so why should they?&quot;: why not work to get it yourself instead of taking everyone else down with you? And those of you whose remarks reveal blatant misogyny should probably be using a little more self-monitoring in your posts.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

The world economies do not revolve around solidarity and collective bargaining powers. A healthy balance must always be reached by companies being able to profit and pay fair, living wages. It seems that most growth continues to go to states that have freedom of choice and a right to work, free of strike threats, possible slow downs and demands that cannot be financially supported by current economic conditions.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

Rob, Most of the other members of the university you speak of do not have collective bargaining power. Consequently they are at the mercy of their employers. For years salaried workers' wages and benefits were protected by the sacrifices of the union membership. Now that the wealthy oligarchs of this country have so successfully diminished the power of the unions, all of our wages and benefits shrink more every year. As the unions go, so go our wages and benefits.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

Is the hospital threatening to eliminate nurses? No. Is the hospital threatening to reduce staff so much as to affect patient care? No. This is purely and simply about the benefits of the nurses. When confronted about how these concessions will affect patient care, the focus of the conversation shifts to unrelated issues such as parking fees, and other &quot;hardships&quot; that will force more experienced (and evidently more self centered) nurses to seek employment elsewhere. Unions started in this country to protect a safe and healthy work environment, and to fair wage and labor practice. Now, in 2011 nurse Jane Doe will strike if she doesn't continue to have her paid days off to go get her nails done.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

Because they are trying to create an elite class for themselves at UM above every other employee or group of employees, while claiming they're taking a stand for the patients. How can that be if they are threatening to strike? They are doing it for themselves. Hypocrits.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

They need to make concessions. If not the governor is just gonna dig in his heals and bust up the union. Then where will they be? Rob makes some good points, listen to it. Everybody has made sacrifices, it's just the way it is.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

I'm not picking sides, but a good old fashioned labor strike would be cool and it would have an impact.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 8:29 p.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 want to earn PTO, paid time off, while not working on short-term disability. Fair? No. They want to pay less in medical benefit premiums than every other UM employee. Fair? No. Now they are talking strike - how is that for caring for patients, being the Michigan Difference, being the group that adds all the value to the health system. What hypocrits. 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 &quot;Michigan Difference&quot; 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 - what it costs.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Just so you know, there is either a week or 10 day notice before a health care strike allowing the university to cancel surgeries and move chronic patients to other institutions. We are concerned about patient care. This is why many nurses are worried about limiting overtime. Who then will take care of patients when nurses are unable because they have already worked their overtime that period?!?! Fair? I think that this is a great word to bring up. You go work somewhere under contract and then just sit there and let them take it away. I don't think it is FAIR of you to comment on what people are wearing (silly red scrubs) or people standing up for their rights and what they believe. You start playing fair and mind your own business.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

When a small part of one company operation tried to negotiate to pay lower medical premiums, get a better retirement plan, and earn paid time off when they weren't working on disability all while the rest of their peers were on the original plans.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

When is the last time you described an autoworker s &quot;irrational&quot;?


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

What would another march prove to the public or the health system? They are well aware of the issues, which are made out to be far more dire than in reality. Overtime pay, paid time off and health benefits are not necessary to continue providing the excellent care UM's patients expect. A in depth knowledge of health care and its practices is not needed to decide whether a hospital can afford additional perks, it has absolutely no affect on the patient. A strike by the nurses will only further tarnish their image of &quot;commitment&quot; and make the public less weary of future support.