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‘We feel they’re trying to separate us’ says Michigan Nurses Union

Nurses union files charges against Ascension Borgess for ‘anti-union activity’
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Nurses Union files charges against Ascension Borgess for ‘anti-union activity’
Posted at 7:53 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 19:53:57-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Michigan Nurses Association filed charges against Ascension Borgess Hospital, citing that the hospital ‘violated federal labor law by engaging in multiple instances of anti-union activity,’ they said in a press release.

The MNA filed the charges Tuesday morning with the National Labor Relations Board, stating that the hospital has been preventing nurses from showing support for the union.

“We have also had a director go so far as to physically put her hands on a nurse to cover up a badge pulley that we’ve worn for years and years with the Michigan Association logo on it,” said Borgess satff RN Emily Fredericksen during a Zoom interview.

Fredericksen said most of the 600 nurses a part of the union at Borgess wear red stickers or bouffant caps with the MNA logo on it. However, lately, they’ve been told to remove them.

“The other charge against them, we requested information from MIOSHA in regards to their information of logs rather for PPE, personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, gloves, head coverings, shoe coverings, supplies especially due to the pandemic,” said Fredericksen, who is also the Chief Grievance Representative for the Borgess Nurse Staff Council through the MNA. “We’re inquiring as to the safety of our nurses, staff at hospitals as well as our patients.”

Fredericksen said they asked for the PPE last Thursday. It’s supposed to come within 24 hours. However, it hasn’t arrived yet.

And, working without a finalized contract only adds to the stress, she said.

“We’re working on a year now almost of an expired contract,” Fredericksen said. “You know nurses are feeling the anxiety, the pressure and we just don’t feel like Ascension is living up to their values.”

She said one of the main things they’re fighting for is safe staffing guidelines for nurses and patients. They’ve had it outlined in previous contracts.

However, Monday, in their latest round of negotiations, Ascension Borgess ‘wasn’t agreeing to anything’ she said. And when the union requested a wage increase, one that would cover the cost of living, they were given a ‘very minuscule wage proposal.’

Borgess released a statement to FOX 17 stating:

“We are extremely proud of the work our nurses do each day to care for our community and remain committed to working diligently and in good faith toward reaching a new collective bargaining agreement. Consistent with the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives, we respect our nurses’ right to organize themselves through union representation. We will always hold the health and safety of our patients, associates, providers and visitors as our top priority, following all Joint Commission and CDC quality and safety guidelines, and will address these allegations through the appropriate processes and channels. We are focused on continuing to collaborate with the Michigan Nurses Association and remain optimistic we will reach a mutually beneficial agreement that supports all.”

Their contract extension expires at the end of July. Fredericksen said all they want is a fair contact.

“We just feel under the circumstances we deserve a fair contract in the midst of uncertainty,” Fredericksen said. “When we feel like we should be coming together with the hospital we feel they’re trying to separate us and rather break the union.”