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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Marquette nurses vote in favor of strike

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Lindsey Eaton/NW Protestors stand outside of Marquette General Hospital, participating in the strike this past October. Nurses began negotiating patient safety concerns in April of 2017 with Duke LifePoint, the new administration. Photo by: Lindsey Eaton

Marquette nurses regained the ability to stand on the picket line once again to fight for safe staffing after they “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of the authorization for a strike last weekend.

Nurses of the Marquette Nurses Association (MNA) cited that “Duke LifePoint has failed to address safe staffing concerns and RN retention” in a press release on Saturday, April 21.

“Very little has changed since our first strike in October,” said Scott Balko, operating room registered nurse, in a statement. Balko is also the president of both the UP Health System-Marquette (UPHS) RN Staff Council and MNA. “Nurses still take the decision to strike very seriously, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our practice and the community
that we serve.”

The voting began on Friday, April 20 and ended at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, and since then, no strike day has been set. By law, nurses are required to give the hospital 10 days of notice before striking.

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UPHS will continue to work to finalize an “equitable and responsible labor agreement,” said Victor Harrington, regional director of marketing and business development for UPHS in a
statement.

“We are disappointed with union leadership’s decision to schedule another strike authorization vote, rather than focusing their efforts at the bargaining table,” Harrington said.

Negotiations with the MNA will take place on May 8, May 9, May 22 and May 24 in hopes of reaching a final agreement, Harrington said.

“As always, patient safety and high-quality care remain our top priority, and we are proud to continue providing the best for our community,” he said.

From the mornings of Oct. 5, 2017 to Oct. 7, 400 Marquette nurses stood on the picket line, striking after alleging understaffing and poor patient care. During the strike, nurses told The North Wind there are usually 1 nurse to 8 patients, when the suggested ratio is 1 to 4. The nurses added they usually work 16 to 18 hours, and after that amount of time, they aren’t able to function properly. After the strike, nurses who alleged the reasons for the strike were not contacted during a performed state investigation, according to an MNA press release from October.

The UPHS-Marquette RN Staff Council and MNA ran a full-page color ad in the Duke Chronicle in December that said they had contacted the Duke University Board of Trustees requesting their intervention to stop the “short-sighted, profit-driven approach of Marquette’s hospital management” and were never responded to. The MNA also began a radio ad campaign during the March Madness college basketball tournament.

“The real ‘madness’ is the 16-hour shifts that Marquette nurses are routinely expected to work,” Balko said in a statement.

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