MUSKEGON, Mich. — Trinity Health and Mercy Hospital workers say talks have made little progress since a deadline for contract negotiations were set earlier this month.
If the two parties fail to meet an agreement by Jan. 31, a strike may be possible according to an employee.
“We’ve been in negotiations all day today,” said Darla Gallegos, a lab technician, in an interview with FOX 17 on Thursday. “We have no raises mentioned, no retentions mentioned, nothing.”
Gallegos added, “A strike would be a last-choice option, [but] we are ready to take a vote in the membership for an action to happen on the 31st.”
At a rally in mid-January, Mercy’s union, SEIU Healthcare Michigan, announced the ultimatum to the hospital’s Livonia-based owner and threatened action, but declined to specify at the time.
RELATED: Mercy Health Muskegon workers set deadline for contract negotiations
The workers’ demands include raises, retention bonuses, and safer staffing levels.
“The RNs right now can leave Trinity, sign on as a traveler, work at Trinity for triple the pay they’re making as an employee of Trinity. Why would you not?” said Gallegos. “Why is Trinity not willing to keep staff? We’ve worked for years. Thirty years I’ve been there.”
Mercy Health Muskegon declined to provide an updated statement from the one it provided a few weeks ago about the talks.
“We look forward to increasing the pace of our negotiations, with the ultimate goal of reaching new agreements with the union. We have been able to do so in the past, and see no reason we will not reach agreements with the union,” stated Mercy Health Muskegon at the time.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, health care institutions may strike, but unions must give 10 days' notice to ensure patient safety.
From there, like other disputes, the strike would then be categorized as lawful or unlawful for any of the reasons outlined in the NLRB.
That categorizations determines an employee's rights in a strike, like if a person may be reinstated to their job afterwards.
“It’s overwhelming that we can’t come to an agreement to make us better,” said Tinitico Moore, a health unit coordinator.
“We want to be valued,” said Gallegos.