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Sun August 14, 2011
UMHS nurses protest proposed concessions
University of Michigan Health System nurses rallied in Ann Arbor Saturday to protest concessions they’re being asked to give.
The 4,000 members of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council have been working under the terms of an expired 2008 contract since July.
Katie Oppenheim is chair of the union. She says the health system is profitable and shouldn’t be asking the nurses to pay more for health insurance, or to work longer before they can retire.
“They’re opening a new $750 million facility this fall, and it would be normal to see a difference in your profit after you open a new facility, start-up costs and that sort of thing," Oppenheim says. "But we know that that’s planned for. They have not pleaded poor.”
Oppenheim says a small wage increase included in the health system’s proposal would be offset by increases in health insurance premiums.
She says if the changes go through, the health system could lose staff.
"Even people in our elected leadership have said, 'I’ve already applied at other facilities, because if this happens, for some reason we can’t win this fight, I’m going to have to leave.'”
The university and the nurses have agreed to meet with a state mediator to help resolve their differences.
Oppenheim says the health system is profitable… and doesn’t need concessions from nurses.
She also says the proposed contract would require many nurses to work more years before they could retire.