Last week I wrote about a 2-day strike by nurses working for Duke LifePoint’s UP Health System hospital in Marquette, Michigan, a protest against profound under-staffing that is leading to dangerous conditions for patients and the nursing staff who care for them. They’ve also been working without a contract with their new for-profit employer since July. Yesterday, nurses ended their strike and showed up to work only to find the doors locked:
— MI Nurses Assoc. (@minurses) October 7, 2017
Throughout the strike, the UPHS nurses received widespread support from the local community, labor unions from around the state, and from numerous Democratic legislators. Here’s a video shot by state Rep. Jon Hoadley with what appears to be the entire Democratic caucus showing their solidarity:
— MI House Democrats (@MIHouseDems) October 5, 2017
Duke LifePoint claims that the contract they signed to hire scab nurses during the strike requires them to be hired for five days and that the nurses will be able to return to their jobs on Tuesday:
A ‘lock-out’ is a situation that occurs when an employer takes preemptive action to prevent employees from working. This is not happening at UPHS – Marquette.
As previously shared, we retained a nationally respected staffing agency to secure highly qualified replacement nurses during the MNA’s declared two-day work stoppage. A minimum commitment of five days is required to secure this level of nursing coverage, which therefore means we expect to be fully staffed with replacement nurses Saturday, Sunday and Monday – Oct. 7, 8, and 9. After these dates, our regular nursing staff will be back at work as usual.
The truth is a lock-out is a lock-out. Duke LifePoint has refused to bargain with nurses in good faith, forcing them to take action to compel them to come to the bargaining table. Also, Duke LivePoint’s signing of a five-day contract when they knew the nurses were only striking for two days is nothing short of a petulant act of revenge or punishment. As I said in my first post, it’s time the UPHS nurses were treated with respect and dignity, not as “expenses” to be minimized in order to maximize corporate profits.
And would be nice if Duke University that lends its name to this organization would show some damn leadership and direct them to start treating the men and women who save lives and heal sick and injured patients with the respect they deserve.
[CC image credit: ~kawaii-bubble-wrap | deviantART]