MUSKEGON, Mich. — More than 800 nurses at Mercy Health in Muskegon will be represented by SEIU Healthcare Michigan after a Tuesday vote.
It includes nurses at both the Hackley and Mercy campuses, which are currently in the process of merging into one tower.
Previously, nurses at Hackley were represented by the Michigan Nurses Association while nurses at Mercy were represented by SEIU.
A news releases says the goal moving forward will be improving safe staffing and personal protective equipment levels during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to negotiate a new union contract that better protects patients.
“Nurses have decided democratically that SEIU is who we want to represent us,” said Wendy Trach, a registered nurse in the Preadmission Testing department who has worked at Mercy Health for 42 years. “With that done, we need to look past our differences and focus on our shared goals, which are advocating for quality care for our patients and good jobs for our colleagues, and getting our community through this global pandemic.”
Understaffing has reached “dangerous levels,” the nurses said in a news release, with administrators requiring extra shifts and announcing impending layoffs. Some nurses describe working 16 hour shifts and repeating it the next day in 'mandated shifts.'
"It's burning the nurses out. People that love their jobs are just exhausted. We've had nurses breaking down crying that have been there 20, 30 years," said Trach.
The election was precipitated by the announced consolidation of Mercy Health Muskegon’s Hackley and Mercy campuses into a new medical tower that was recently constructed at the Mercy campus, according to the news release.
The nurses voted on whether to join SEIU, the Michigan Nurses Association or to not have a union. Mercy campus nurses have long been under SEIU, while those at the Hackley campus have been represented by the Michigan Nurses Association.
Next, nurses from both campuses will fill out contract bargaining surveys to determine their negotiation priorities.
In a statement, Mercy Health said:
"Mercy Health Muskegon participated in the vote counting on July 7, 2020. However, the results have not yet been certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Until that certification is received, there is no change to the representation. Mercy Health Muskegon looks forward to working with the Union selected to represent the Nurses, once the NLRB provides notice of that representation."