Nurses at McLaren Greater Lansing took their fight for a new contract to the streets Wednesday.
The nurses, as well as their representatives at their union, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459 say compensation and staffing levels are the hangups in negotiations. Jeffrey Flemming, OPEIU’s lead negotiator for the nurses, says because of low staffing levels, the hospital is requiring nurses to work overtime.
“Nurses are having to work 16 hour shifts, in some cases day, after day, after day,” he said.
Which Linda Olin, a Registered Nurse at McLaren Greater Lansing, says negatively impacts patient care.
“When you’re tired, you might miss something that’s really important,” she said. “You don’t get to pay as much attention to your patients because you’re running around trying to catch up.”
Nurses would like McLaren leaders to commit to fixing the staffing levels, although there’s no set number they’re asking from the hospital. But it’s not just staffing levels that are an issue.
Representatives from OPEIU Local 459 say the health insurance package they’re being offered is essentially a pay cut because of a high deductible. Their current plan has no deductible.
OPEIU Local 459 and the nurses say the hospital isn’t offering anything to compensate for that.
“We love our patients, and we take good care of McLaren’s patients,” Olin said. “And we want McLaren to take care of us.”
Fleming added he wants McLaren leadership to see the fair treatment of nurses as equally important to the building of their new hospital.
“If McLaren’s going to invest so much money in a new hospital, they also need to invest in their nurses,” he said.
McLaren Greater Lansing sent 6 News a statement on the negotiations. Read that statement in full below:
“McLaren is committed to working with the union to reach a fair and competitive contract for their nurses. McLaren began negotiations on a new contract almost a year ago and have reached [an] agreement on numerous items with the nurses.-McLaren Greater Lansing
The hospital’s priority is to deliver safe, quality care to patients. McLaren will continue to work with the unions that represent employees and meet the community’s healthcare needs.
McLaren Greater Lansing is operating normally during the union activity; there is no impact on emergency care or scheduled appointments.”