The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) has filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Duke LifePoint and Marquette General Hospital.
The charges, which were filed on Oct. 18, include Coercive Statements (Threats, Promises of Benefits, etc.), Repudiation/Modification of Contract, Lockout, Coercive Rules, Changes in Terms and Conditions of Employment, Concerted Activities (Retaliation, Discharge, Discipline), Coercive Actions (Surveillance, etc.), and Refusal to Bargain/Bad Faith Bargaining (including surface bargaining/direct dealing).
These charges came after the result of the 48-hour strike that the MNA hosted because of alleged issues of understaffing and concerns of patient safety within the hospital.
There are three more bargaining sessions to be held in November, according to the MNA.
Victor Harrington, regional director of marketing and business development at UP Health Systems (UPHS), stated that Marquette has not been notified of any charge filed with the NLRB and therefore cannot comment on any specific allegations or details.
“Pending receipt of a charge, we would of course gladly work with the NLRB on appropriate resolution. It is not unexpected that the MNA would take this action, as it is a common pressure tactic unions use in conjunction with a strike,” Harrington said in a statement.
Previously in September, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) paid an unexpected visit to Marquette General, and looked into the nurses’ complaints of understaffing. Nurses and other staff members were interviewed during the process and hospital records were also examined. According to the MNA, nurses who filed the complaints were not interviewed or contacted during the process.
“Common sense suggests that a proper investigation prompted by the [Assignment Despite Objections] reports submitted to the state should include attempts to interview the nurses who filed the complaints,” said Stephanie DePetro, operating room nurse at UPHS Marquette and chief grievance officer of the MNA in a statement.
The Department concluded that no deficiencies were found in the investigations, and the hospital was in compliance with Medicare certification requirements.
“Receiving zero deficiencies from this team of highly experienced nurse surveyors is outstanding and a strong endorsement of the quality care being delivered daily at UPHS-Marquette. We know these results would not be possible without the hard work, dedication and tireless compassion of our employees, physicians and volunteers,” Harrington said. “It is our privilege to serve the healthcare needs of our community, and we will continue working to deliver the very best care to those we serve.”
The nurses, however, were not satisfied with the results of the investigation, and responded to UPHS’ statement.
“Marquette nurses will continue to advocate for the highest quality of patient care, because hospital safety is not a simple pass/fail endeavor. We have documented hundreds of patient safety concerns, and at this time, we are not convinced that the state has adequately looked into those issues,” DePetro said in a statement on the MNA website.
The MNA refused to provide a comment on the situation. More information about the MNA charges filed with NLRB can be found at nlrb.gov/case/18-CA-208284.