U-M RNs rally, march and picket for contracts
October 12, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ann Arbor, Michigan – Over 1,200 University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) registered nurses rallied at Liberty Park, marched from downtown Ann Arbor to Medical Center Drive, and picketed for two contracts outside the hospital: the Main Street Contract and a fair contract from UMHS management for 4,000 RNs. The combined event was held on Wednesday, October 12 beginning at 4:30 pm.
“Nurses are adopting the Main Street Contract because it provides for their patients,” said Jeff Breslin, RN, Michigan Nurses Association President. “The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council is fighting to make sure that the patients who enter UMHS are protected by working for a fair contract.”
The Main Street Contract is a national political movement for nurses leading the charge for a better America. It calls for seven principles that all Americans are entitled to, including health insurance for all and a quality education, among others. The Contract calls for a tax on Wall Street transactions that would generate millions of dollars to help support social programs that have been decreased or eliminated. With 1% of Americans controlling 35-40% of the wealth, the Main Street Contract will help address the needs of the remaining 99% who are working people suffering to make ends meet.
“Why should a health system that’s had 15 years in the black be demanding that nurses pay more for their health insurance?” said newly-elected Michigan State AFL-CIO president Karla Swift at the rally. “Why is UMHS insisting on a contract that will lower the nurses’ ability to provide the high standard of care expected by this hospital? Why do the nurses and students and union and community members have to come out here today, just like we’re doing on Wall Street, and say, ‘This is nonsense and we are not going to allow the wealthy to prosper while the result of us suffer?’”
Among the concerns held by the nurses regarding the proposed contract changes are increases in health insurance premium costs, reduced benefits and potential staffing problems brought on by short-sighted thinking. “We are standing strong until we have a fair contract that helps us continue providing quality care for our patients by assuring that we retain and recruit highly skilled registered nurses,” said Katie Oppenheim, RN, UPNC President rallied the nurses and community leaders. “UMHS is apparently more concerned about the bottom line than what’s good for the patient care at the institution.”
Negotiations between UMHS and the registered nurses will take place on Thursday, October 12, 2011. The nurses have been working without a contract since June 30, 2011.
For more information on the Main Street Campaign, go to www.fightformainstreet.org.
The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest, most effective union for RNs in Michigan. As the voice of all registered nurses in Michigan, MNA advocates for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table. MNAis a constituent member of National Nurses United and an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.