Nurses at University of Michigan vote overwhelmingly to authorize unfair labor practice strike

96 percent yes vote gives leaders authority to call a work stoppage

ANN ARBOR – Nurses at the University of Michigan have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their elected nurse bargaining team to call a strike in protest of the university’s alleged unfair labor practices.

Members of the Michigan Nurses Association-University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (MNA-UMPNC) voted over the past week, with the results tabulated Friday afternoon. More than 4,000 nurses voted, with 96 percent voting yes.

“The vote shows that thousands of nurses are united in standing up for their rights and demanding respect,” said Renee Curtis, RN, president of MNA-UMPNC. “We will not sit by while the university violates the law, especially when it comes to their refusal to negotiate over safe workloads. Nurses are ready to do whatever it takes to hold the university accountable.”

The vote means a strike could be scheduled at any time.

The work stoppage vote comes amid what the nurses say is a pattern of unfair labor practices by the university, with the latest being the refusal to bargain over safe workloads. MNA filed a lawsuit and unfair labor practice charge over that issue earlier this month. Other still pending charges include:

  • In July of 2022, MNA filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging the university engaged in bad faith bargaining by unilaterally terminating an incentive payment for nurses in University of Michigan Medical Group-run areas.
  • In February of 2022, MNA filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging the university retaliated against multiple nurses for engaging in protected union activity.
  • In 2019, the university made unilateral changes to employee parking at the main hospital campus in Ann Arbor without bargaining. That bad-faith bargaining case is still pending before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, as are the others.

The union is aware of other potential violations and is currently investigating them.

“We just want the university to respect our rights, voice, and union,” said MNA-UMPNC member Anne Jackson, RN. “We’re sick and tired of being disrespected by the university. We know that our community and our patients are behind us, and we’re ready to do what’s necessary.”

“I voted yes because I want to send a strong message to the university administration,” said MNA-UMPNC member Karen Lenz, RN. “The message is that your nurses aren’t going to take it anymore. We’re demanding that you bargain in good faith and treat us with the respect we deserve.”

The nurses have been working without a contract since July 1. Negotiations are set to resume Tuesday. The regents of the University of Michigan hold the contract with MNA-UMPNC.

The Michigan Nurses Association is the largest union and professional association for registered nurses and healthcare professionals in Michigan. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United and AFL-CIO.

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Contact: Dawn Kettinger, 517-721-9688

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