Michigan Nurses Association files charges against Sparrow Hospital, alleges federal labor law violations

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)- The Michigan Nurses Association has filed an unfair labor charge against Sparrow Hospital with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Sparrow of repeatedly violating federal labor laws.

“We are completely fed up with the anti-union attitude Sparrow executives have taken,” said Jessica Lannon, RN, the grievance chair of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital – Michigan Nurses Association (PECSH-MNA) and member of MNA’s Board of Directors. “They keep trying to silence the voices of caregivers. Sparrow’s administration has crossed the line too many times and must be held accountable.”

A press release from the Michigan Nurses Association cited Sparrow’s hiring of the Barnes and Thorunburg law firm, a firm that specializes in union avoidance.

The Nurses Association alleged the following misconduct:

  • Unlawfully abandoned the safe staffing concerns process in the caregivers’ union contract prior to its expiration;
  • Unlawfully interrogated staff about union activities and unlawfully attempted to prevent staff from wearing red to show support for their union;
  • Unlawfully announced that they plan to restrict provider networks in 2022 for employee health insurance plans;
  • Unlawfully created a position for nurses at Sparrow outside of the union;
  • Unlawfully refused to share financial information with the union;
  • Unlawfully coerced employees’ legally protected right to strike including by making bargaining proposals containing a written threat to withdraw proposals on wages, healthcare, and other economic terms automatically upon notice of a strike.

According to the Association, Sparrow executives also declared that they will cut benefits for nurses if they go on strike.

“Sparrow’s actions can have real consequences for our patients. Our staffing situation has gone from bad to worse since they abandoned the safe staffing process in our contract,” said Jen Ackley, an emergency department nurse and a member of Sparrow caregivers’ elected bargaining team in a press release. “They should be spending less time illegally trying to silence us and more time trying to work with us. Our number one goal as union caregivers is to keep our patients safe.”

Earlier in the week, Sparrow Hospital offered a new proposal with a pay increase for certain workers in a range of 15.6% to 19% over the course of a 3-year contract. There are no changes to health benefits in the new proposal. The hospital also said the goal is to work out a fair contract with the union with the help of a federal mediator.

“We are reviewing the complaint and will respond as appropriate,” said John Foren, Sparrow’s spokesperson. “However, we dispute all allegations of the complaint.”

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