RNs return to work at UPHS-M


MARQUETTE — After a 48-hour strike regarding safe staffing concerns that ended Saturday morning, UP Health System-Marquette nurses are back to work today.

According to Andrew Baker, internal organizing and communications coordinator of the Michigan Nurses Association, nurses reported to work at 7 a.m. without any issues.

After the strike ended at 6:59 a.m. Saturday, nurses scheduled to work at 7 a.m. were unable to get into the hospital because the doors were locked.

Greg Kerwin, a registered nurse who was scheduled Saturday morning, said the locked doors surprised him.

“I walked up with fellow nurses who were also scheduled at 7 a.m. and we couldn’t get in,” Kerwin told The Mining Journal Monday.

Even though a hospital statement claimed UPHS wasn’t participating in a lock-out situation, Kerwin said that he was outside and the doors were “physically locked.”

Victor Harrington, regional director of marketing and business development for UPHS, said in a previous statement that administrators were aware of rumors regarding a “lock-out” at the hospital.

“This is inaccurate, and we would like to clarify with the community,” Harrington said. “A ‘lock-out’ is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS-Marquette.”

After nurses notified hospital management in September of their intent to strike, UPHS hired a staffing agency to cover the nurses’ shifts during the strike. However, since a minimum commitment of five days was required to secure replacement nurses, regular nurses were called off until today. Many of them, according to the MNA, had no idea.

In a statement over the weekend, Harrington addressed the issue, stating that the hospital had made numerous efforts to notify nurses that shifts were covered by temporary replacement employees.

“We want our team back at work and will be happy when they return,” Harrington said in the statement. “In the meantime, we will continue to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of the high quality, safe and compassionate care that our patients and community members expect and deserve.”

The MNA and hospital management hope to reach an agreement that works for both parties, both have previously stated. As of early today, no new bargaining negotiation times have been set.

Harrington could not be reached for additional comments by press time today.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.