Health care professionals of Sparrow Hospital in Lansing announced last week they will be holding a strike authorization vote due to disputes with executives on wages and staffing levels. The members of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital, a local chapter of the Michigan Nurses Association (PECSH-MNA), will begin voting Nov. 16 and run through Nov. 21.
This announcement follows an informational picket from PECSH-MNA members on Nov. 3 — which did not result in a work stoppage.
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The vote would allow an elected negotiating team for PECSH-MNA to have the ability to call a strike, and therefore start a potential work stoppage. If the vote is successful, PECSH-MNA would provide a 10-day notice to the hospital before any strike date is set.
Katie Pontifex, a nurse at Sparrow Hospital and president of PECSH-MNA, says:
“All we are asking for is a fair contract that will allow us to recruit and retain caregivers. While a strike is always a last resort, we are willing to do what it takes to make sure that we will always be able to provide the highest quality of care. We are advocating for our patients and our community.”
Since Oct. 31, 53 different classifications of health care professionals represented by PECSH-MNA within Sparrow Hospital have been working under an expired contract.
According to MNA, Sparrow executives have not yet offered up wages that account for the rising costs of living in the area. They also say hospital executives are refusing to give health professionals N-95 masks or other similar personal protective equipment (PPE) upon request when aiding a COVID-19 positive patient.
MNA says the hospital has not cited the inability to pay as a reason for the lack of resources. Kevin Glaza, a Sparrow Hospital pharmacist and vice president of PECSH-MNA, says:
“Cost of living expenses are rising, qualified caregivers are leaving the profession, and so far the only answer Sparrow executives have offered is to penalize us if we have to call in sick on weekends by making us work double the next time. We need fair wages. We need affordable healthcare. We need a commitment to PPE. Caregivers could not possibly be more clear about what is necessary to be able to recruit and retain the staff we need, but Sparrow executives just don’t want to listen.”