U of M Nurses Ratify a Strong, Patient-Centered Contract

For Immediate Release

Sara Wallenfang; 517-974-4966
Amelia Dornbush; 517-896-7478

Three-year agreement supports continued world-class nursing care

(Ann Arbor, MI) Today, the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council (UMPNC) is pleased to announce the ratification of a new three-year contract with Michigan Medicine.

“Our members are extremely proud of the contract that we achieved through collective action,” said Katie Oppenheim, RN and chair of UMPNC. “Because we stuck together, we won staffing language with enforceable commitments and procedures. Nurses will have an effective means of ensuring that staffing decisions are always based on patient care.”

UMPNC, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, reached a tentative agreement with the University on September 28. Between October 7 and 10, union members voted overwhelmingly to accept the agreement, which took effect immediately once the votes were counted.

In addition to enforceable, transparent safe staffing language, the new contract ensures that nurses will be able to select their own representatives to workplace committees.

“As the University of Michigan Health System continues to expand, nurses will continue to advocate for patients,” said Deborah Totzkay, operating room nurse educator. “Through committee members that nurses select, we will have a real voice to raise safety concerns and make sure they are addressed. Our union contract will help guarantee that patients always come before profits.”

The contract also addresses concerns over the Victors Care program, concierge medicine for those who can afford to pay $3,600 extra per year. The new agreement specifies that any revenues from Victors Care will be used to provide healthcare access for socio-economically disadvantaged patients.

“I am glad that we were able to work together on Victors Care and come up with a solution that benefits the entire community,” said Desiree Conyers, ambulatory care RN. “In addition, ambulatory care is expanding and nurses will be involved on the front end of those changes to guarantee that every patient is treated like a VIP.”

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) – a category that consists of nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists – have much to celebrate in the new contract.

“Substantial gains were made for nurse practitioners,” said Barbara Van Kainen, certified nurse midwife. “The contract provides APRNs with fair compensation and advances our professional interests.”

Among many gains, nurses won new sexual harassment protections, parental leave, and language limiting the use of mandatory overtime.

“The new contract achieved significant improvements for nurses and patients without sacrificing any of the benefits that make Michigan Medicine a great place to work,” said John Karebian, Executive Director of the Michigan Nurses Association. “Through collective action, members were able to convince management that attracting and retaining skilled RNs by ensuring an outstanding wage and benefits package is in the best interest of patients and the hospital. We are optimistic that this agreement will usher in a new era of collaboration and goodwill between nurses and administrators.”

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for registered nurses in Michigan, advocating for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.


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