Michigan Medicine nurses describe intolerable conditions at union-organized protest to University of Michigan regents

Last Thursday, several dozen nurses from Michigan Medicine and their supporters held a protest demonstration and march in Ann Arbor that included participation at the June meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents.

The demonstration was organized by the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (UMPNC), which is affiliated with the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). UMPNC called the protest as part of the efforts of the local and state union leadership to divert the enormous anger of the 6,200 nurses in the bargaining unit over intolerable conditions and channel it into useless appeals to the corporate- and Democratic-Party dominated regents, while working to isolate the nurses and impose a concessionary contract.

However, nurses who spoke at the Board of Regents meeting described the impossible working conditions, short-staffing, unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios and brutal work schedules they confront.

The protesters assembled at the university’s Detroit Observatory near the health care facilities of Michigan Medicine and then marched several blocks to a central campus classroom building where the regents’ meeting was being held.

With their current contract expiring on June 30, the nurses are fighting the drive by the management of the health care system to impose a new concessionary agreement, including wage increases that are half the current rate of inflation and further reductions in staffing, as well as other attacks on their working conditions.

Rather than mobilize the strength of the Michigan Medicine nurses, unite them with other hospital staff and prepare for strike action to win their fight, the union has collected 4,000 signatures on a “United We Bargain” petition directed to the university regents. The petition calls on the board to help the nurses win a “fair contract,” establish “fair wages” and end “unsafe mandatory overtime.”

As reported by the MNA-UMPNC in its June 17 bargaining update, the union is promoting the false hope that the university Board of Regents will “stand with us and push Michigan Medicine to come to the table with a fair contract offer.” Meanwhile, the union has not put forward any specific demands that address the interests of nurses. It has failed to even schedule a strike authorization vote.

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