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Sparrow Hospital caregivers plan strike authorization vote

Posted at 10:34 AM, Nov 10, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Members of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital announced Wednesday they will be holding a strike authorization vote.

Voting will begin Nov. 16 and run through Nov. 21, according to a news release.

Fifty-three classifications of caregivers represented by the organization – including nurses, pharmacists and lab scientists – have been working under an expired contract since Oct. 31.

All members are eligible to participate in the vote.

“All we are asking for is a fair contract that will allow us to recruit and retain caregivers,” said Katie Pontifex, a nurse at Sparrow Hospital who is president of PECSH-MNA. “While a strike is always a last resort, we are willing to do what it takes to make sure that we will always be able to provide the highest quality of care. We are advocating for our patients and our community.”

The vote will allow for the union’s negotiating team, which is made up of Sparrow caregivers elected by the membership, to have the ability to call for a strike.

If the strike authorization vote is successful, a 10-day notice would be provided before any strike date is set.

“Cost of living expenses are rising, qualified caregivers are leaving the profession, and so far the only answer Sparrow executives have offered is to penalize us if we have to call in sick on weekends by making us work double the next time,” said Kevin Glaza, a pharmacist at Sparrow Hospital and vice president of PECSH-MNA. “We need fair wages. We need affordable health care. We need a commitment to PPE. Caregivers could not possibly be more clear about what is necessary to be able to recruit and retain the staff we need, but Sparrow executives just don’t want to listen.”

Last week, more than 1,000 caregivers and community members held a picket on Michigan Avenue outside of Sparrow Hospital to call for a fair contract.