State Legislators to UM Regents: Nurses Have Been Undervalued Far Too Long

Safe staffing, transparency needed for patients and staff
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ANN ARBOR — State legislators representing Washtenaw County, home of the University of Michigan, sent a letter to the school’s president informing him that safe staffing and transparency are essential for Michigan Medicine to remain as an internationally recognized leader in the health care industry. Although their contract expired on June 30, nurses have been negotiating for a new contract since the beginning of the year, with a transparent process for nurses to have a voice in safe staffing as a top priority.

“The quality care that nurses provide to our communities should never go unnoticed, nor unrewarded,” said state Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township). “Everyone deserves the freedom to bargain alongside their coworkers for safer work environments — nursing is no different. These are the men and women who take care of us when we’re sick, who deliver our children and who provide us comfort in our final days. Established contracts should recognize the true value of trained professional care, and should compensate nurses appropriately for their incredibly valuable work.”

“Michigan Medicine is world-renowned for quality care, which is made possible by professional nurses,” said state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). “We support the nurses of UMPNC in their struggle for a contract that values both them and their patients.”

The letter comes ahead of the UM Board of Regents’ meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Registered nurses at Michigan Medicine — including the University of Michigan hospitals and satellite facilities — are represented by the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association. More than 6,000 nurses have been working without a contract at Michigan Medicine since the expiration of their labor agreement last month.

“Nurses are on the front lines in hospitals, ensuring patients receive the quality care they need,” said state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor). “Michigan Medicine should be leading our state by adequately staffing their nurses and providing them the economic security they deserve. If Michigan Medicine wants to rise as the ‘Leaders and Best’ in the medical community, they must do better.”

“Growing up in a family with two registered nurses, I saw over and over that nurses will always put their patients first,” said state Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “I sincerely hope that Michigan Medicine will respect the professionalism of our nurses by negotiating a contract that will allow them to care for their patients safely.”

The letter in support of the registered nurses at Michigan Medicine was sent to University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel on July 14. The letter was signed by Sen. Warren and state Reps. Ronnie Peterson (D-Ypsilanti), Lasinski, Rabhi and Zemke.

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