University of Michigan and nurses union reach tentative contract deal

Michigan Medicine and the union representing about 6,200 nurses have reached a tentative agreement, more than two months after their contract expired, according to a news release from the union.

The Michigan Nurses Association-University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council had sparred over contract negotiations and what the union called a “refusal to bargain over safe workloads.” The parties had been bargaining since March 15, and the contract expired June 30.

“Through our months of solidarity and collective action, nurses have stood strong to reach an agreement that meets our members’ priorities of protecting patients and investing in nurses so we can provide the best care possible,” MNA-UMPNC President Renee Curtis said in the late Wednesday release. “MNA-UMPNC nurses want to thank our community for all their support and advocacy over the months. Our elected nurse negotiating team is unanimous in believing that this agreement is a win for everyone who cares about nurses and the quality of care at the University of Michigan.”

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The union said highlights of the tentative agreement include an end to mandatory overtime, an improved mechanism for enforcing contractual workload ratios and competitive wages to recruit and retain skilled nurses.

Full details of the contract are to be made available to the union membership during meetings in the coming days. A date to ratify the contract was not disclosed.

Earlier this month, the MNA-UMPNC filed an unfair labor practices claim against the university and authorized a strike, claiming the health system was breaking the law by refusing to negotiate for mandated patient-to-nurse ratios. The nurses claim they have been caring for too many patients at a time, which compromises the safety of those patients and the nurses who care for them.

Crain’s previously reported that the health system had offered a four-year, $245 million package for the nurses that included a 6 percent raise during the first year of the contract with 5 percent raises for the next three years, a $4,000 bonus for each nurse, elimination of mandatory overtime and expanded guidelines for the patient-to-nurse ratio.

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Detroit Business.

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