In one of the major labor victories since Republicans made the birthplace of organized labor in America a so-called “right to work” state, 1000+ nurses at Traverse City’s Munson Medical Center will now be represented by a union for the first time:
A vote to unionize registered nurses at Munson Medical Center will soon be certified.
The two-day election took place on Aug. 9 and 10. More than 1,000 nurses won the right to form their union but by a narrow margin. 489 nurses voted in favor of forming a union, while 439 said no.
The nurses association says the election certification was delayed for a week while the National Labor relations Board considered adding challenged ballots. But after review, the employer agreed that many of the uncounted ballots were casted by nurse who were ineligible to be in the union. The remaining challenged ballots were fewer than the number needed to affect the election results.
The nurses will now be part of the Michigan Nurses Association which represents over 13,000 nurses across the state. Given the success of anti-union corporatist groups in Michigan, this development was a shot in the arm for the labor union movement here as a whole. John Karebian, Executive Director of the Michigan Nurses Association, was ecstatic. “Congratulations to Munson nurses!” he said in a statement. “The way that these RNs prevailed will inspire nurses everywhere to speak up and take collective action. Wherever nurses take a stand on behalf of patients, the Michigan Nurses Association will be there.”
As maternity RN Amy Aebig put it, this is a win for nurses and patients alike. “[Now] we will be able to negotiate for the fair wages and benefits needed to attract and retain highly-qualified nurses to Traverse City and northwestern Michigan,” she said. “When RNs are treated with respect, patients, and management win as well.”
The next step for the newly unionized RNs will be to elect nurse-leaders to their negotiations team and begin working with Munson management to develop their first contract.
Labor unions don’t get many victories these days which hurts everyone, particularly when it comes to our caregivers like nurses. It’s important that we celebrate victories like this and use that energy to help workers across Michigan in their fight for better wages and working conditions, improved benefits, and a retirement plan that allows them to live their lives in dignity when they finally retire.