Contract reached

Sides OK ‘agreement in principle’ after marathon talks

After a marathon bargaining session, representatives with the Michigan Nurses Association and U.P. Health System-Marquette have reached a tentative agreement. The union rank-and file membership must still vote on the agreement. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — After more than a year of contract negotiations, including extensive bargaining that lasted late Thursday night and through early this morning, registered nurses at UP Health System-Marquette and hospital leaders have agreed in principle on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.

Details of any tentative agreement will not be disclosed until presented to members at ratification meetings, which will be held Thursday at Northern Michigan University in the Bottum University Center’s Charcoal Room. A new contract will not take effect until it is ratified democratically by a majority of members, according to a release issued today by the Michigan Nurses Association.

“This is a win for our entire UP community, and we could not have come this far without strong community support. I want to thank all of our friends, family members, and neighbors who continue to support us,” Scott Balko, operating room RN and president of the UPHS-Marquette Staff Council/MNA, said in a release.

The chapter of the MNA covering RNs at Duke LifePoint’s UPHS-Marquette released a statement on Monday that said nurses would schedule another strike if negotiations weren’t met by Thursday.

Nurses at UPHS-Marquette have been in contract negotiations with Duke LifePoint since April 2017. Nurses have been working without a contract after a two-month contract expired in July 2017.

On Oct. 5 and 6, a two-day strike highlighting staffing concerns was conducted as hundreds of people in the community marched along College Avenue in solidarity with nurses.

Last month, nurses voted to authorize its bargaining team to call a second strike, which resulted in an overwhelming amount of support, an MNA press release states. The elected bargaining team represents about 375 RNs at UPHS-Marquette and has the authority to call a strike. By law, they are required to give the hospital 10 days of notice.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.